New vi­sion for Pu­taruru mill shared

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

Amega-agri­cul­ture cen­tre pro­posed for the for­mer Pu­taruru sawmill site could in­crease job op­por­tu­ni­ties as the train­ing, re­tail and tourist fa­cil­ity evolves, its new owner says.

Pur­chased by three Tau­ranga prop­erty in­vestors in Oc­to­ber, the 14-hectare site was moth­balled af­ter Carter Holt Har­vey closed the mill in late 2008, re­sult­ing in 212 job losses.

Group spokesman Dave Mac­far­lane said the in­dus­trial-zoned land at To­tara St was ide­ally lo­cated in cen­tral Waikato to be­come a one-stop shop for agri­cul­ture, hor­ti­cul­ture and forestry in­dus­tries.

‘‘ Pu­taruru has taken a beat­ing with job losses. We could po­ten­tially re­place a sim­i­lar num­ber of jobs lost at the mill.

‘‘ Smaller com­mu­ni­ties have a heart and soul but some­times don’t re­alise what they are sit­ting on and it takes an out­sider to come and sell the big­ger vi­sion,’’ he said. ‘‘ We are keen to hear feed­back from the town about the pro­posal.’’

The prop­erty was bought for an undis­closed amount, and the new own­ers have not ruled out cap­i­tal­is­ing on any tourism ben­e­fits from the New Zealand Cy­cle­way Pu­taruru to Ro­torua project or an agri­cul­tural-based tourism ven­ture.

Mr Mac­far­lane said the fi­nal busi­nesses would be dic­tated by the mar­ket and ad­just­ments could be made to the build­ings if re­quired.

‘‘So far, there has been an en­cour­ag­ing level of in­ter­est.’’

NEW START: The for­mer Pu­taruru sawmill on Princes St could be­come a home for agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries.

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