Ambition Board awaits final decision on future of billion-pound North Wales Growth Deal

THE transformational North Wales Growth Deal that will create thousands of jobs and boost the economy for generations to come is one step closer.

North Wales Economic Ambition Board (NWEAB) met last week and gave its support to move forward with the five programmes that make up the £1bn Deal, underpinned by £240million investment from both the Welsh and UK Governments.

These programmes cover low carbon energy, innovation in high-value manufacturing, agri-food and tourism, digital connectivity and land and property.

Progress is reflective of how the region worked together with UK and Welsh Governments to define a portfolio of investments, which once fully approved, will see work begin in 2021.

The Deal has now been submitted to both the UK and Welsh Governments for consideration, with a final decision expected before the end of the year.

Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, Ambition Board chair and leader of Gwynedd County Council, said this was a “major milestone” after years of hard work and collaboration between the region’s local authorities, colleges, universities and private sector representatives, with support from both governments and national stakeholders.

“The Growth Deal has been developed to deliver long-lasting positive investment and change that will enable economic and employment growth for the long-term,” he said.

“Over the next 15 years it will empower us to work together and take control of how we invest in our future. It is a unique opportunity to make investment decisions locally and demonstrate the value this brings.

“Ultimately, as part of a broader programme of investment, the Growth Deal will enable us to build a more vibrant, sustainable and inclusive economy for us all in North Wales.”

Driven by the Ambition Board’s Portfolio Management Office, based at Conwy Business Centre in Llandudno Junction, the three main objectives of the wider Growth Vision for North Wales are to create up to 4,200 new jobs by 2036, support an uplift of £2bn-2.4bn for the economy over that same period, and deliver total investment of up to £1.1bn.

Portfolio Director Alwen Williams is confident the business cases put forward to both governments will meet these targets and spark a sustainable economic and social resurgence when the country needs it most.

“Our Investment in low-carbon energy projects enable us to contribute directly to the climate change emergency, not only helping to make North Wales a cleaner, greener environment, but also positioning ourselves as one of the leading UK locations within the low carbon energy sector,” said Alwen.

“Not forgetting our foundation economies in agriculture and tourism, we will help to enable and encourage diversification to improve the long-term future of these key industries, ensuring they have opportunity to thrive.

“We recognise and value our obligation to deliver the Growth Deal in a way that improves and enhances our social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being and look forward to leading this important investment in our home and our region – North Wales.”

Askar Sheibani, chair of the Ambition Board’s Business Delivery Group, believes connectivity between communities is going to be key as momentum grows.

“The Growth Deal will invest in the region’s digital infrastructure,” he said.

“This is essential and underpins economic growth. Accessible and reliable high-speed fibre broadband and 5G capability throughout the whole of North Wales is essential.”

Jim Jones, chair of North Wales Mersey Dee Business Council, added: “A Deal that delivers on supporting business and productivity growth for both our home grown SMEs and the international businesses based in North Wales – in our key sectors of manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, agriculture and energy – has the potential to make a once in a lifetime positive impact for us all.”

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart welcomed the positive steps made in past weeks, and said: “The UK Government is working to bring greater investment and job opportunities to communities across Wales and the latest steps in the North Wales Growth Deal represent real progress in achieving those aims.

“It is a huge opportunity to transform the region and help rebalance the Welsh economy and that is why UK Government is committing £120million to the deal. Working hand in hand with local government and business, we will continue to develop the Growth Deal and ensure it unleashes the full potential of North Wales.”

Minister for Economy and North Wales Ken Skates added: “I’m pleased to see the progress made on the North Wales Growth Deal, which has the potential to transform the region’s economy.

“This is now more important than ever in these very challenging times. I’d like to thank all the partners for their hard work in reaching this stage.  We’ll now work with the UK Government so we can progress the next steps as quickly as possible.”

For more information on the Growth Deal, follow @northwaleseab (English) and @buegogleddcymru (Welsh) on social media.