North Wales Economic Ambition Board is laying the foundations for a successful £1bn Growth Deal that will boost the economy and create up to 15,000 jobs over the next decade.
The seven strategic programmes included in the final North Wales Growth Bid are now in place, and members from the six local authorities, colleges, universities and private sector are putting the final touches to a 2019/20 timeline and work programme.
The programmes cover low carbon energy, advanced manufacturing, land-based industries (agriculture and tourism), land and property, skills and employment, digital connectivity, and strategic transport, and will have a positive impact on tens of thousands of households, businesses and organisations across the region.
The decision to pause development of the new nuclear power plant at Wylfa on Anglesey earlier this year was a blow to North Wales, and the Ambition Board has been in talks with the UK and Welsh Governments to determine the most positive course of action.
They are also pushing for £40million of further funding in addition to the £240million received from both governments last year and encouraging them to invest a larger capital sum to support an even bolder and more impactful Growth Deal.
And that Deal will see more than 4,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs created, reinforced by £511m of private sector investment and £3.3bn of capital leveraged from the private sector, achieved as a result of the projects and programmes being delivered.
Gwynedd’s leader Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, chair of the Ambition Board, says the Deal is more important than ever for economic prosperity.
“Alongside our partners in education and the private and public sectors we have worked hard over past years to get to this position,” said Cllr Siencyn.
“There is still a long road ahead but the funding from both the UK and Welsh Governments means we have a firm foundation on which to build.
“We are in discussions over an increased capital sum from both governments and looking at the best ways in which to move forward.”
He added: “The Growth Deal is for North Wales and will impact on everyone, whether that be via improved digital connectivity, transport routes, renewable energy or the benefits all of the projects will bring.
“We have made huge progress and our focus now is moving ahead and delivering on the eight programmes to kick-start a new phase of economic prosperity in North Wales.”
Past months saw the Growth Bid reach its climax and the Deal move forward with the backing of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham councils, as well as Coleg Cambria, Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Wrexham Glyndwr University, Bangor University and the North Wales Mersey Dee (NWMD) Business Council.
Cllr Mark Pritchard, vice-chair of the Ambition Board and leader of Wrexham Council, believes the next year will be crucial for the region’s economy.
“The Growth Bid and subsequent deal are vital, but ultimately they are part of a much wider Growth Vision for North Wales,” said Cllr Pritchard.
“One of the most positive elements to the Ambition Board is the unity all six local authorities and other partners have shown in coming together for the Growth Bid.
“We will display that same togetherness in pushing for prosperity in every area of North Wales, with this Deal at the heart of that.”
Proposals have been put forward for a new programme office, to drive and organise the projects, and Gwynedd will be the host authority.
The Growth Vision’s overarching aim is to increase the economy value to £26bn by 2035 from £13.6bn currently.
Cllr Siencyn added: “The £240m earmarked for the Growth Deal by the UK and Welsh Governments is just the beginning, there are also alternatively funding streams and sector deals we will negotiate to maximise economic growth.
“The Ambition Board is moving ahead and will continue to work hard to fulfil its aim of delivering a Smart, Resilient and Connected region.
“We expect the final Growth Deal to be in place later this year and for priority projects to begin from 2020 onwards so we can take forward this transformational series of programmes forward and make a difference for decades to come.”