Leaders in South West Wales say the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal has a key role to play at the heart of the region’s economic recovery from Covid-19.
Worth £1.8 billion and more than 9,000 high-quality jobs to the Swansea Bay City Region in coming years, the City Deal will part-fund a programme of major projects across Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea.
The first £18 million of City Deal funding has already been released by the Welsh Government and UK Government, based on the approval of two City Deal projects – the Canolfan S4C Yr Egin creative and digital hub in Carmarthen, and the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District.
Major progress is also being made on meeting of number of government terms and City Deal review recommendations, which will help secure a further £18 million this year.
Other City Deal projects include a pan-region Digital Infrastructure project that will boost digital connectivity in rural and urban communities. A life science and well-being development earmarked for Llanelli is also planned, along with a life science campuses project.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Joint Committee, says Covid-19 has emphasised the importance of further key sectors including health services, housing, energy and construction which make up our foundational economy.
Cllr Stewart said: “It’s now more important than ever to accelerate the delivery of the Swansea Bay City Deal for the benefit of residents and businesses throughout the Swansea Bay City Region, given the economic impact of Covid-19.
“The importance of digital connectivity has been heightened during the Covid-19 emergency, with the City Deal’s Digital Infrastructure project set to improve digital connectivity across the region, helping boost the resilience of our businesses and communities.
“The new normal also gives the chance to further grow the region’s foundational economy, while encouraging more remote working and the use of alternative, sustainable forms of transport which will combine to benefit the environment.”
Ed Tomp, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal’s private sector Economic Strategy Board, said: “City Deal investment is much-needed as a driver to boost regional economic recovery in the wake of Covid-19. A number of transformational projects form part of a programme that will further develop sectors including life sciences, digital and zero carbon energy to make the Swansea Bay City Region more economically competitive, while creating high-value employment opportunities for local people.
“This is hugely important because it will generate a brighter future for our businesses and residents, while creating a stronger, more vibrant City Region where our young talent can stay to pursue their career and life goals.”
The City Deal’s energy projects include the Pembroke Dock Marine project that’s set to place Pembrokeshire and the City Region at the forefront of global marine energy innovation. A regional Homes as Power Stations project is planned to tackle fuel poverty, while helping the region meet its carbon reduction targets.
In Neath Port Talbot, the Supporting Innovation and Low Carbon Growth programme of projects is focusing on decarbonisation and future-proofing the steelmaking sector through the creation of a steel innovation centre.
A regional Skills and Talent initiative is also in the pipeline to enable local people to access jobs being generated by City Deal projects.
Cllr Stewart said: “Constructive discussions with both governments continue to take place on the most recent City Deal projects submitted for final approval, including Pembroke Dock Marine,
“Adhering to all social distancing guidelines, contractors have been continuing work on the indoor arena site forming part of the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District project as the steel structure of the new attraction starts to take shape.
“Despite the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19, this is among the progress that should reassure regional businesses and residents that partners remain absolutely focused on delivering the City Deal as soon as possible.”