Far North Holdings has had “significant interest” in its plan for a business park near Kaikohe. The company has published for the first time a plan of the proposed Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park indicating progress in discussions with organisations involved in glasshouse horticulture, renewable carbon products, native timber drying, housing trades training and construction, honey, native leaf teas and manuka oil extraction.
The FNDC-owned company has focused on securing interest in the park from businesses and enterprises that are new to the district, and that will offer new jobs to local people who are currently unemployed.
The plan is for the park to create as many as 333 full time equivalent jobs through the first stage of the development, both on site and through specialised training conducted there.
An Innovation and Education Centre will provide office accommodation for businesses, and laboratory space for research and development providers who will collaborate with primary sector organisations to add value to their production.
The centre will also contain state-of-the-art communication technology, conference and education facilities so providers can deliver on-site and on-the-job education and training. This will ensure that locals can be trained to fill the positions available, and employers at the innovation and enterprise park can access the skilled workforce they need.
Potential tenants have been identified and have said they will establish themselves on the site if other elements of the plan can be made to work.
“No-one’s breaking out any Champagne just yet and we want to caution against any unjustified optimism,” said Andy Nock, Far North Holdings’ chief executive. “There is still significant progress to be made before we can say with any certainty that our vision has a chance of becoming reality. But we wanted to show the community where we’re at with this project.”
A large team comprising staff from Far North Holdings, Northland Inc, The Ministry for Primary Industries, sector specialists, engineers, architects and planning and economic development experts has undertaken the work for this first stage of the proposed project. The business case has been developed and the masterplan designed to provide as much of a ‘closed loop’ system as possible, with tenants using the innovations and unwanted by-products of other businesses on the site. This will help avoid placing additional demand on already-stretched community services such as potable water, raw water, waste-water treatment and waste management services.
Resource consent applications for each component will be submitted shortly, while discussions continue with potential occupants, tenants, investors and the Provincial Growth Fund.
The PGF has contributed $890,000 towards this initial feasibility, planning and business case work.
Mr Nock said the group was working “relentlessly” and starting to “notch up a few runs on the board.” But he emphasised that no prospective tenants were yet committed or confirmed.
“That said, we are miles further ahead with this project than we were even three months ago so I’m very pleased with the progress we’re making and we can thank the PGF for that,“ he said. “There are still many months of hard work ahead of us before we will know if we have manged to line up all the inter-connected elements that are needed for the park to proceed.”
Far North Holdings has established a website which describes the Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park project in detail. Search online for ‘ngawha innovation’ or go to ngawhapark.nz.