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Regional growth . . . Apex Engineering directors (from left) Mark Hay, Ewen McGregor and Brent McCone are excited about the funding the company is receiving from the Provincial Growth Fund. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

An Oamaru engineering firm has become the first business in the Waitaki district to successfully tap in to the Provincial Growth Fund.

Apex Engineering, based at the North Oamaru Business Park, has received a grant of $147,000 to go towards more efficient machinery to supply the farming, mining, transport and food production industries.

Apex Engineering will use the money to buy new, and upgrade existing, equipment, which director Mark Hay hoped would create more jobs.

“It’s hard to say at this stage, but certainly we are looking at three [new jobs] anyway,” Mr Hay said.

“[The funding] has an ongoing effect, that we can continue to grow the nature of the work we are doing.”

A computer-controlled lathe was one of the major investments the company had made with the PGF grant.

“It’s a good training opportunity for someone to be able to operate something like that, because the programming side is a little bit complicated, but the operating side of it is reasonably straightforward.

“It means a reasonably entry-level person could come and use that.”

A new brake-press and milling machine would also arrive next year.

Apex Engineering had been operating for 12 years, and moved out to its new premises at the business park earlier this year.

It had 24 permanent staff, and predominantly did work for local industrial and agricultural clients.

“The whole intention is that this should be something that benefits not just us, also the clients we support and the local industries,” Mr Hay said.

“It fits well with us with our new premises out here that we can fully utilise what we have got.

“It’s all new, which is something that we are really looking forward to – good gear that we can rely on, which turns out good products and just enhances what we are doing.”

The company decided to apply for a PGF grant after encouragement from the Waitaki District Council economic development manager Gerard Quinn, Mr Hay said.

“Some of the attributes they are looking for are training, employment, opportunities for young people – anything that relates to and supports infrastructure.”