This year has seen major progress towards the agreement of a Growth Deal to realise our Growth Vision for North Wales.
In past months the North Wales Economic Ambition Board – which consists of representatives from all six local authorities, colleges and universities, and the private sector – has secured a £240m commitment from the UK and Welsh Governments.
The Board is still in discussions with both governments and encouraging them to invest a larger matching capital sum to support an even bolder and more impactful Growth Deal, in addition to alternative sector programmes and finance streams.
This is incredibly positive news and a strong foundation on which to implement the nine priority programmes - consisting of 16 projects - that formed the North Wales Growth Bid.
All 16 projects are key to the region - the Board's ambition and focus is on delivering all of them to help kick-start a new phase of economic prosperity.
The North Wales Growth Bid and subsequent Growth Deal are a driving force and key part of the wider Growth Vision for North Wales.
We are all working together to create jobs, improve skills and training, enhance infrastructure and develop North Wales as a world leader in smart energy, technology, digital innovation and connectivity, and more.
Our ultimate aim is to increase the economy to £20bn a year by 2035 and bring the area's gross value added (GVA) figures in line with the rest of the UK.
A priority is to create a programme office that will have the capacity and skills to lead the priority projects to fruition, alongside our partners and both UK and Welsh governments.
While the £240m investment is a platform on which to negotiate a final Growth Deal, it is just the beginning. The Board will continue to work hard to fulfil its aim of delivering a Smart, Resilient and Connected region for generations to come.
We expect the final Growth Deal to be in place later in 2019 - for work to begin on priority projects from 2020 onwards.