Christmas has come a few weeks early for the 12 projects that will receive money from the NSW government's $100 million Restart Illawarra infrastructure fund.
Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka was at the University of Wollongong's Innovation Campus on Thursday to announce the winning projects, chosen from a shortlist of 20.
Mr Ajaka said the funding was "a great result for the Illawarra", especially when the overall value of the projects was taken into account.
"We're talking about an investment of $100 million from the government," Mr Ajaka said.
"More importantly, we're talking about a total injection into the Illawarra of $190 million. We're almost getting dollar for dollar from the successful applicants, who will put in $90 million of their own funding to give us $190 million."
The biggest single project was Wollongong City Council's Fowlers Road bridge, which received the $22.5 million in funding requested.
"This will open up the area to 17,000 new homes over the next 50 years, with the link between Fowlers Road and Fairwater Drive making West Dapto area easier and more accessible to get to," Mr Ajaka said.
While there was originally only $20 million of the $100 million fund allocated in the current budget, Mr Ajaka said he would approach Treasury to free up the extra funds required for shovel-ready projects.
He also said that work on some projects would start in the coming months.
"My understanding is that some of the earlier projects will be starting early to mid next year," he said.
"Of course, other projects like iAccelerate, they've already started the project, before the funding announcement had occurred."
The University of Wollongong's iAccelerate facility will be at the Innovation Campus. Allocated $16.5 million, it will provide space and mentoring for high-tech start-ups, tapping into UOW's high numbers of information and communications technology graduates.
The university's director of innovation and commercial research, Elizabeth Eastland, said the facility had the potential to draw high-tech business to the city.
"It has convinced start-up companies to move from Sydney to the Illawarra," Ms Eastland said.
"The iAccelerate centre will be able to house over 280 entrepreneurs. This will spin off to further opportunities for professional services such as legal, intellectual property, financing and accounting, marketing and so on."
Overall, health was the big winner in the Restart funding, accounting for almost half - $44.69 million - of the funds distributed.
This includes $8 million for an aged-care centre at Kiama Hospital and $14.46 million for a centre for excellence for aged care at Bulli Hospital.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District is involved with both projects and chairman Professor Denis King said the news was "excellent".
"They're both things that we've wanted to do and they're both part of our strategic plan, but we hadn't been able to identify the funds for them. But now we'll be able to do them.
"We'll be able to leverage off the funds from Bulli to be able to do even more than is proposed.
"At least we know that we're going to be able to refurbish the building and get it up to scratch."
All three of Wollongong City Council's shortlisted projects were funded. As well as the Fowlers Road bridge, there was $2.9 million for improvements to Bald Hill and $5 million for stage one of the Grand Pacific Walk, a 3.5-kilometre section along Lawrence Hargrave Drive between Coalcliff and Stanwell Park.
"These are significant projects for the council, eventually providing better access for West Dapto, a refurbished site at Bald Hill, which will provide great amenities for locals and visitors, and further works on stage one of the Grand Pacific Walk," Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.
"We welcome this funding from the state government's Restart Illawarra program as the council is working to secure our future through the financial sustainability review."
Warrigal Care had two aged-care facilities on the shortlist - at Shell Cove and Wollongong - each seeking $20 million in funding.
Only the Shell Cove project was successful, receiving funding of $17 million.
Warrigal Care CEO Mark Sewell said the 100-bed facility would provide jobs for people in the community.
"This will enable lots of nurses, carers, physios, cleaners, cooks, gardeners and others to get great local jobs with a trusted community-owned employer who has been around for 46 years," Mr Sewell said.
Illawarra Business Chamber chief executive Debra Murphy urged the successful funding recipients to invest in the region when it came to employment.
"What is important now is retaining as much of the economic benefit from this $100 million within the Illawarra," Ms Murphy said.
She urged proponents to source local labour where possible.