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An increase in job opportunities at Southland businesses will be a driver for young people to stay in the region, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
Ms Ardern, who was in Invercargill today for the first time since taking office, officially opened new sections of both the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, and Alliance in Lorneville.
The opening of a fourth potline for the smelter created 45 new jobs for the region, while a new venison processing plant would, at its peak, would employ 60 people.
The smelter’s new potline would have an “undeniable economic impact” on the Southland community, she said.
“Critical to making those young people either stay or come home are the job opportunities that exist, and so that’s one of the reasons that Tiwai is so important to this community.
At the opening of the venison plant, Ms Ardern also acknowledged Alliance as a “massive employer” in the region, who were providing the opportunity for the next generation to stay, or come home to, a “wonderful job”.
“We want to see growth within our regions and that’s not just for the sake of growth,” she said.
“...in our view, for too long there has been a focus on our metropolitan areas and sometimes that has come, in our belief, at a cost of our provincial parts of New Zealand.”
Rio Tinto Aluminium chief operating officer Pacific Operations Kellie Parker said the organisation was proud to join the Prime Minister in marking the milestone for staff at Tiwai Point.
“Expanding the production capacity at NZAS will allow us to meet the demand from customers for the value-added products made here.
“Restarting this potline will increase the smelter’s production capacity by around 10%,” she said.