THOUSANDS of jobs will be created and the region’s economy given a £1bn boost now the ground-breaking North Wales Growth Deal has been signed.
Both the Welsh and UK Governments and the North Wales Economic Ambition Board yesterday (Thursday) formally approved the five programmes that make up the Deal, a key driver of the overarching Growth Vision for North Wales.
Led by North Wales Economic Ambition Board – a collaboration of the region’s six councils, two universities, two colleges and private sector representatives – the programmes are made up of 14 projects covering low carbon energy, innovation in high-value manufacturing, agri-food and tourism, digital connectivity and land and property.
The governments have worked closely with stakeholders throughout the process and had earlier committed £240m – £120m each – to help bring the Deal to fruition.
To celebrate the landmark occasion, Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart and Ken Skates MS, Minister for the Economy and North Wales, met virtually with Cllrs Dyfrig Siencyn and Mark Pritchard, chair and vice-chair of the Ambition Board.
Cllr Siencyn thanked both governments for their support and guidance throughout the journey from the initial North Wales Growth Bid to this point.
“Since day one we have worked in partnership with a fresh approach to regional economic development and sustainability,” he said.
“Now we must ensure these programmes build on the foundations already laid and bring about long-lasting positive investment and change, notably in terms of employment and a cleaner, greener environment.
“I am proud and heartened to see the Deal has been given the go-ahead and now the work really begins – congratulations and thank you to everyone who played a part in getting us to this watershed moment.”
Portfolio Director Alwen Williams added: “Together we will now strive to build a sustainable and inclusive economy for this region, as a beacon of best practice for other areas of the UK, having learned from the success of other regions.
“We welcome the responsibility on our shoulders to deliver this package of transformative programmes and are ready to get to work – for our communities, for our businesses, for North Wales.”
The programmes will be managed by the Portfolio Office, based at Conwy Business Centre in Llandudno Junction.
Their main objectives are to create 3,800 new jobs by 2036, support an uplift of £2.2bn for the economy over that same period, and deliver total investment of up to £1bn.
Among the first projects to get underway in 2021 is the £35m Morlais renewable energy scheme off the coast of Anglesey.
Meanwhile, there has been significant North Wales-wide investment in digital connectivity, with key sites – including GP surgeries, hospitals, and libraries – benefiting from ultrafast broadband thanks to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) Programme, in partnership with the Ambition Board and Portfolio Office.
Praising the progress made, Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “It’s fantastic see an exciting and transformative economic deal being delivered across North Wales.
“We want to build back better from the pandemic and bring jobs and investment to our communities, which is why UK Government has already committed £120m to this project.
“The North Wales Growth Deal is an incredible opportunity for the region and for the wider Welsh economy. Working hand in hand with local government and business, we will ensure it unleashes the full potential of North Wales.”
Minister for Economy and North Wales Ken Skates added: “I’m pleased to be able to sign the final Deal agreement giving the green light for the North Wales Growth Deal, which has the potential to transform the region’s economy.
“We cannot underestimate the challenges facing the economy today as result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Growth Deal will be a key part of the region’s recovery over the next months and years.
“Backed by £120m from the Welsh Government, all partners across the region now have the opportunity to build on what they have already achieved to bring green and sustainable growth – this is a historic day for North Wales.”