Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

Business

Enterprise Zones to be reorganised

Published

on

Enterprise Zone: 'Little to show for the money', claim Conservatives

ECONOMY Secretary, Ken Skates has announced an intention to streamline the operation of Wales’ eight Enterprise Zones while increasing their focus on delivering prosperity for Welsh communities.

During an appearance at the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee, Ken Skates announced the conclusions of his review of the governance of Wales’ Enterprise Zones while stressing his commitment to the continuation of all eight of the zones.

Speaking after Committee, Ken Skates said: “I am very proud of the achievements and success of our Enterprise Zones and grateful for the hard work and commitment of the Chairs and Advisory Boards in driving their success.

“Collectively our Enterprise Zones supported over 10,700 jobs to the end of the last financial year at a cost per job of less than £6k per job, and whilst the pace of delivery has varied between the Zones, this very much reflects each Zone’s economic context and starting position.

“All eight Enterprise Zones have made significant progress, and are continuing to deliver value for money by laying the foundation for future prosperity and creating the right environment to support the development of sustainable job opportunities in communities right across Wales, both in the short and longer term.

“The changes I have outlined are about streamlining bureaucracy and utilising other governance structures where I believe that represents the most sensible way forward. They have also been made as part of a wider review of advisory architecture across my portfolio.

“The views of the Chairs of the Enterprise Zones have been invaluable in shaping my decisions.”

Mr Skates announced that f​our of the eight boards that advise the government on Wales’ enterprise zones are to be wound up this summer. The boards overseeing the zones in Cardiff, St Athan, Deeside and Ebbw Vale will cease to exist from July 31. But the zones themselves – designed to support business growth with some tax incentives – will continue to exist.

Boards in Port Talbot and West Wales will continue, while those for Snowdonia and Anglesey will merge.

Mr Skates also said more enterprise zones could be created, in places such as Wrexham.

Responding to Ken Skates’ comments, Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew RT Davies, said:​ ​“Labour’s enterprise zones have cost the Welsh taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds – with very little to show for the money and Welsh workers still receiving the lowest average weekly wage in the UK.

“The Cabinet Secretary’s comments indicate the Welsh Government might well continue down the road of Enterprise Zones, potentially throwing good money after bad.

“The approach outlined by Ken Skates seems haphazard at best, utterly shambolic at worst and certainly does not fit into the rhetoric of the Welsh Government’s recently launched economic action plan. Some new enterprise zones are to be created, some boards are to merge, and some wound up altogether!

“The Welsh Government must now make clear its long term plans for the zones and ensure that any future funding produces tangible economic results for Wales and our local communities.”

Wales’ eight Enterprise Zones were first launched in April 2012. The then Cabinet Secretary for Business, Edwina Hart, stated that “My aim in developing enterprise zones is to strengthen the competitiveness of the Welsh economy.​”​

Since the creation of the zones, £221 million of public funds have been allocated to support that policy initiative. Despite huge injections of public funds however, serious questions remain as to whether the Enterprise Zones have delivered their key objectives:

In the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone £94.6 million has been spent to create, safeguard or assist just 390 jobs (at a cost of around £250,000 per job)

In the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone £2.1 million has been spent to create, safeguarded or assist just 20 jobs (at a cost of £108,333 a job)

A further issue is the question of whether or not Enterprise Zones have come close to fulfilling their original intent.

Enterprise Zones were set up by the Welsh Government to ‘grow the local economy and provide new jobs’.

However, while Mr Skates claims that over 10,700 jobs were ‘supported’, Welsh Government figures suggest that, in practice, the zones have not been used to create new jobs.

The average cost of each new job created by Enterprise Zones has been £74,000

The St Athan Enterprise Zone was supposed to deliver 10,000 jobs by 2025 – but in five years the number of new jobs actually created was 137.

In Ebbw Vale, £94 million has been spent on just 175 new jobs, the equivalent of £500,000 a head.

In Snowdonia, £2.1 million has been spent on creating 6 new jobs.

Looking at the figures revealed for the Haven Enterprise Zone, reveals that 356 jobs have been created, 561.5 safeguarded, and 196 assisted: 1,113.5 jobs.

Using a crude measure – the total number of jobs involved came at a cost of under £8,500 each. However, under one third of those jobs are the sort of new jobs the Enterprise Zone was supposed to create.

Business

Herald announces £1.5m investment in local journalism

Published

on

A WEST WALES based newspaper group is to invest £1.5m in the next twelve months, creating up to 10 new jobs while safeguarding a further 25 full-time positions.

The good news comes as the Herald group of newspapers, based in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, secured significant new investment to secure its future.

The cash injection will also see a relaunch of Herald Newspapers’ three print titles, The Pembrokeshire Herald, Carmarthenshire Herald and Llanelli Herald, as well as it’s news sites which include the Ceredigion Herald and the new Swansea Herald – which is currently under development.

The firm has faced “considerable financial challenges” over the last two years following the closure of one of its print titles, The Ceredigion Herald, under a previous owner, Managing Director David Lee confirmed.

A small number staff and freelancers were left unpaid when Megagroup Newspapers went into liquidation in January 2017 – some of those have now been repaid, with others set to receive their remuneration shortly.

Most of the original management and staff – a twenty-five strong team continued to work on Herald titles under the ownership of Herald Newspapers plc – and kept the three of the four newspaper titles in print during corporate restructuring.

David Lee said that keeping the Herald titles going following the closure of The Ceredigion Herald had been a ‘near impossible task’.

Editorial controls were also not tight enough for a fourth title – leading to the conviction of Group Editor Tom Sinclair for putting the identity of the victim of a sexual offence at risk, and for naming a 17-year-old fisherman who crashed his boat – also unlawful.

Mr Lee said: “Launching a fourth print title, The Ceredigion Herald, was a bridge too far” for MegaGroup Newspapers – and losses started to mount quickly – almost bringing the other three titles down with it .

Popular: 45,000 people read Herald titles each week in west Wales

“The new investment –a significant amount – will secure the future of the Herald print tiles for the next two years, whilst we move our business model towards a digital offering.

“It will also allow us to invest in recruiting more journalists, increasing the speed and scope of our news coverage.”

The newspapers’ future was secured by its sale to private investors based both in the UK and overseas.

The new investment vehicle for The Herald titles is Herald News International Inc., a new company incorporated in the United States last month, due to one of the major investors – an Omani – having significant holdings there.

David Lee added: “Our commitment is to provide a truly local news service to west Wales. “While a lot of the news about local newspapers is all doom and gloom, HNI has seen something in The Herald’s brand worth investing in.

“This is very good news for the region and a sign that local news is not dead.”

Community: Herald titles are campaigning newspapers

Continue Reading

Business

New drive supports women entrepreneurs

Published

on

ECONOMY MINISTER, Ken Skates is calling on the business community to support a new initiative aimed at increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in Wales and providing them with the best possible support.

The Welsh Government’s new Supporting Entrepreneurial Women programme was informed by the work of a panel of experts, convened in 2017 to consider how best to encourage, develop and support female entrepreneurship in Wales.

The panel, chaired by Helen Walbey, considered an array of academic evidence and literature on women in entrepreneurship, spoke to a range of businesswomen, representative groups and partner bodies, and aligned its work with the principles of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme which is championed by Be the Spark in Wales.

The result is a new Framework for Supporting Entrepreneurial Women in Wales and a Good Practice Guide to inform how the Welsh Government and business community works to drive the number of women entrepreneurs in Wales.

The Welsh Government have also responded by publishing the Business Wales Action Plan which identifies 10 specific ways in which the Welsh Government and business community can improve. From providing more gender focussed business support and confidence building, increasing the number of female business advisors and mentors in Wales and promoting the career successes of prominent female entrepreneurs including through business awards, the action plan aims to create the right environment in which female entrepreneurs can prosper.

There is also renewed focus on engagement with women entrepreneurs to understand the barriers they face, improved availability of finance options with no restrictions that unfairly affect women, and a Good Practice Guide that encourages business support organisations to adopt ways of working that support female Entrepreneurship.

The Economy Minister launched the Framework, Good Practice Guide and the Action Plan at a celebratory event in Capital Law. This will be followed by regional events, jointly organised by the Welsh Government and Lloyds Bank, to ensure that business groups right across Wales are aware of the new resources and their role in supporting female entrepreneurship.

The Economy Minister said: “The underrepresentation of women both as business owners and at a senior executive level is well evidenced and there is no doubt the gender gap is hindering women from achieving their full economic and personal potential.

“Our Economic Action Plan focuses on creating the right environment to enable entrepreneurs to prosper and grow and obviously this must apply to women, just as much as men.

“The work undertaken by the panel of experts recognised the progress that we as the Welsh Government and business representative groups have made in recent years in supporting female entrepreneurship – but the message is clear. We must do more, and with Brexit presenting challenges of an unprecedented scale, now more than ever we need our best talent around the table.

“I call on the business community and financial institutions to work with us to adopt a more gender focussed approach to their work. I hope they will use our new Framework and Good Practice Guide to ensure they play their part in building an environment where women entrepreneurs are encouraged and properly supported to reach their full potential.“

Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip said: “All women should be given equal opportunities and representation at the most senior level. Helping to understand and remove barriers that women face in entrepreneurial opportunities will support the potential growth of women in business. Through this support, we hope women will be more fairly represented and can flourish in the business sector.

“Although, there is still so much more we can do to achieve better gender equality, this initiative will help women to achieve their full potential and to move away from the underrepresentation of women at senior roles.”

Continue Reading

Business

Local companies aim for export boost

Published

on

LOCAL food and drink companies are preparing to attend one of the world’s largest food trade events in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 17-21 February. Held at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Gulfood will attract over 98,000 visitors over the five days, welcoming more than 5,000 exhibitors from 193 countries showcasing products across 8 primary market sectors.

Supported by the Welsh Government, 14 Welsh companies from across the food and drink sector in Wales will be present under the Cymru/Wales banner all looking to promote their products and increase their export markets.

The Welsh companies exhibiting include Llaeth y Llan/Village Dairy, Rachel’s, Dairy Partners Ltd, Daioni Organic, Fayrefield Foods Ltd, Calon Wen Organic Dairy, The Lobster Pot, Ty Nant Spring Water, Euro Foods Group UK, Prima Foods UK Ltd. Alongside these, representatives from Castle Dairies Ltd, Hybu Cig Cymru/Meat Promotions Wales, Dunbia and Village Bakery Ltd will also form part of the Export Visit.

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, believes that it is vital for the industry to take advantage of such opportunities to continue to develop global markets: “Our food and drink sector is one we can rightly be proud of and we need to ensure that everybody knows about it. It is important that we maintain our visibility and showcase our innovative products at key global trade events.

“We are committed to supporting Welsh businesses having a presence at events such as Gulfood, as it is crucial in giving ourselves a strong platform to sell Welsh produce around the world. With Brexit approaching it is more important than ever that we champion Welsh produce and support food and drink businesses in every way we can. We need to help them build relationships with businesses in their sector so they can learn about new technologies, explore foreign markets and be competitive in their industry.”

A company looking to make an impact and will be introducing their Afternoon Tea range at Gulfood is Llanelli’s Prima Foods.

Their classic British gluten-free afternoon tea range features both mixes and ready to bake goods, to include Scones, Choux Pastry and Belgian Chocolate Brownies.

Massimo Bishop-Scott, Head of Innovation at Prima Foods said: “Afternoon teas have seen a bit of a resurgence and are an incredibly popular menu offering. They attract consumers outside the normal lunchtime/dinner eating occasions which provide incremental revenue for restaurants and hotels.

“We spotted that there was a gap for great tasting gluten-free offerings on the afternoon tea menu and set about making products that tasted just as good as the gluten-containing equivalent. A number of our customers in the UK have been so impressed with the taste and texture of our products that they have replaced their existing gluten containing range with our Chefs Promise range.”

One company looking to build on its existing links with the UAE is leading organic milk producer Daioni Organic from Boncath.

In June 2018, they began working with Truebell, their exclusive distributor to the UAE and have launched into Carrefour and Choithrams with other retailers to follow throughout 2019.

In 2018, Daioni launched a new iced coffee latte which they will be presenting at Gulfood for the first time this year.

Chief Operations Officer at Daioni Organic, Daniel Jones said: “We have seen high growth in the overseas markets in the past couple of years, particularly from the Middle East and Asia. We see this expansion as well as our presence at Gulfood, as a great opportunity to enter growing markets and to invest in our existing relationships.”

Continue Reading
News3 hours ago

Milford Haven: Man remanded in custody following Haven Hotel ‘attack’

A MILFORD HAVEN man has been remanded inro custody following a vicious attack at a public house in the town....

News6 hours ago

Japanese dignitaries visit Pembrokeshire to study maritime heritage

JAPANESE visitors have been given unique insights into their long naval and maritime heritage connections with Pembrokeshire. In a visit...

News8 hours ago

Petrol station could be demolished to make way for Costa Drive Thru

THE PETROL station at Withybush Retail Park could be demolished to make way for a Costa Coffee drive-thru. Milford Haven...

News20 hours ago

Lemmy Best, 27, in court over Haven Hotel violence – five were injured

POLICE arrested a man who caused “mayhem” in a Milford Haven pub on Sunday evening (Mar 17). Police said that...

News1 day ago

Milford Waterfront development promoted at prestigious international property event

MILFORD WATERFRONT was one of six Welsh projects to be showcased by the Department of International Trade at MIPIM, an...

News3 days ago

Barclays branches in Milford Haven, Pembroke and Narberth will all close soon

THREE of the five remaining Barclays Bank branches in Pembrokeshire will be closing in the coming months The Pembrokeshire Herald...

News3 days ago

Pembrokeshire College: Student film-makers highlight driving dangers

CREATIVE media students at Pembrokeshire College have highlighted the ‘Fatal 5’ of driving. The students were invited to create short...

News4 days ago

Council counters in Fishguard, Neyland and Milford Haven to shut

PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL will be closing its customer service centres in Fishguard, Neyland and Milford Haven at the end of...

News4 days ago

Reports damning for City Deal management

THE PUBLICATION of two reports on Friday, March 15, has shone a light into corners of the Swansea Bay City...

News4 days ago

Pembroke Dock: Defendant jailed for bringing a knife to court

A PEMBROKE DOCK man has been jailed after turning up to court carrying a craft knife. Wayne Steven Davies, 30,...

Popular This Week