A specialist Agriculture Portfolio Advisor has been appointed to work alongside industry groups and the Mid and South Canterbury community to identify funding opportunities that would help future-proof the region's agri-sector.
Richard Fitzgerald has been appointed to the position and began his role in August at the Ashburton District Council.
The 18 month role is fully funded through the Government's Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) and will assist local industry to select projects that would be suitable for provincial growth funding.
Council Chief Executive Hamish Riach says the position is an important opportunity to enhance the region's largest economic contributor for the benefit of the whole community.
"It's a real pleasure to have Richard join us in this new role. He has many years' experience serving on several local boards and is very familiar with our district's diverse primary producing sector, having been a farmer and consultant himself.
"We are very fortunate to have a great depth of expertise across our community, and a local industry that has been working hard to maximise sustainability. Through this role, Richard will be able to provide the link between these organisations and producers to help foster more resilient businesses and better align business opportunities across the agri-value chain."
Richard says he is very excited to be appointed to the role.
"Our region is a real leader in agri-innovation and there are some very switched-on producers and businesses that could really benefit from Government funding to get their projects off the ground.
"This position will help to ensure the region continues to foster innovative and sustainable practices that bolster the community, and I'm thrilled to play a part in strengthening our local agri-sector for the future."
In mid 2019, the PGF identified a gap in funding applications from the regions. Funding was then set aside for a portfolio advisor to help identify these projects across Canterbury that would ideally play to the region's biggest opportunities for growth.
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing comprised 37.5 per cent of the Ashburton District's GDP in 2019.
In addition to his new role, Richard is on the Mt Hutt College Board of Trustees and Wellbeing Opuke Executive, and is a Director of Electricity Ashburton Limited.