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Welsh Government releases additional £100M business support

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The latest phase of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund has benefited from the release of a further £100million from ministers within 72 hours of launch, due to a massive demand.

More than 6,000 grant applications from small and medium sized businesses and social enterprises were received within 24 hours of the launch on Friday – an unprecedented response, revealing the scale of the challenges facing Welsh businesses.

The Fund aims to complement and fill the gaps left by UK Government schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme, with grants of up to £10,000 for micro-enterprises and up to £100,000 for SMEs and a light touch appraisal system designed to get money to businesses with the minimum of delay – as well as a new loan fund administered by the Development Bank of Wales.

Less than three weeks since the First Minister announced the intention to create the Fund, the Welsh Government has released a further £100 million, taking the grant fund to £300 million. This will supplement this latest phase of support, providing non-repayable grants to microbusinesses, SMEs and those large businesses of critical, social or economic importance to Wales.

The Fund has been warmly received by trade union and business organisations, with the Institute of Directors calling it ‘very welcome news for business owners and managers who are desperate for all the help they can get at this difficult time’. The South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce has called ‘the rapid response to date’ of the Welsh Government in supporting the economy of Wales ‘impressive’. The Wales TUC welcomed ‘additional funding to address the gaps’.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said:  “We knew that even with the help offered by initiative such as the Job Retention Scheme, there was a massive need for quick access to grant funding if Welsh businesses were to survive this unprecedented economic shock. Whilst in order to make the scheme quick and simple we needed to take tough decisions over eligibility – like requiring businesses to be registered for VAT as a way of having to check on their trading history – it is clear from the level of response received that the Economic Resilience Fund is plugging a gap in UK Government support and providing much needed financial reassurance to many businesses at this challenging time. We will continue to review support and consider how we can develop it over the coming days.

“The rate of applications has been massive and unprecedented. This is the second time in a matter of weeks that access to Welsh Government funds aimed at easing cash flow pressures for Welsh business have quickly reached capacity, and we have responded with pace to release a further £100m into this phase of the fund.

“In these difficult and demanding economic times we have worked hard to free up resources to create such a large Fund despite the huge demands on our budget, and to strike a balance between supporting as many enterprises as possible and making a meaningful contribution to each one’s survival, as well as asking each recipient to sign up to the principles of the economic contract.

“Though we applaud much of what the UK Government has done, there is an urgent need to see more of the promised lending guaranteed by the UK Government getting to the front line. The UK Government must continue to support and press the high street banks to be much more responsive to the needs of our businesses at this difficult time.”

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “The Economic Resilience Fund is part of more than £2bn of support that we have made available to help businesses and charities during these incredibly difficult times.

“We know that support for business is crucially important but whilst we are doing everything we can in Wales to plug any gaps and provide the best possible financial support to businesses, it is clear there are further steps that the UK Government needs to urgently take.”

The Economic Resilience offers financial support to help businesses, charities and social enterprises deal with the coronavirus crisis and will be vital in helping organisations manage cash flow pressures. It is a unique additional funding stream for Wales and was designed to address gaps not currently met by schemes already announced by the UK Government, Welsh Government and Development Bank of Wales.

The first stage of the Fund saw the £100 million Development Bank of Wales’ loan scheme fully subscribed in little more than a week. Applications are currently being processed and some businesses have already received funding. It is anticipated that the Development Bank will have processed all applications received within the month.

To ensure that money reaches businesses as quickly as possible more than 120 additional Welsh Government and Business Wales staff have been diverted onto processing applications and supporting businesses and organisations in this latest stage of the Fund.

Business

Demolition underway at Haverfordwest’s Western Quayside

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DEMOLITION WORK is underway at Western Quayside in Haverfordwest (the former Ocky White building) as part of a major construction project to redevelop the site.

Commenced earlier this year, the project will provide a modern and stylish three-storey development, including a food emporium, bar and roof-top terrace.

The Pembrokeshire County Council scheme incorporates public realm improvements including an attractive waterfront square with space for events which could extend its use into the early evening.

The demolition is due to be finished by mid-December, when works will move on to the installation of the substructure foundations and then onto the steel work installation in the New Year. The project is anticipated to be complete in early 2023.

The scheme is funded by the Welsh Government Transforming Towns programme and the Building for the Future programme through the European Regional Development Fund. The contractors are John Weavers Ltd.  

Rachel Moxey, Head of Economic Development and Regeneration, said the development, combined with its potential for leisure and community use, aimed to encourage greater vitality and resilience within the town centre over time.

“The project is evidence of the Authority’s commitment to support the regeneration of Pembrokeshire’s county town,” she said. “Not only will it help drive footfall to Haverfordwest, it will also support business growth and create an additional community hub.”

Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “Our Transforming Towns programme is providing £136 million to further support the economic and social recovery of town and city centres across Wales, building on existing investment of £800 million in over 50 of our towns since 2014.

“Transforming Towns is focussed on improving biodiversity and green infrastructure, repurposing neglected properties, increasing flexible working and living space, and providing access to services.

“Our town centre first policy means that town centres should be the first consideration for all decisions on the location of workplaces and services. Our town and city centres face many challenges which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“That’s why we are investing heavily to ensure that our towns not only survive but thrive, and we are brave in reinvigorating them into places where people want to spend their time.”

Local County Councillor Tom Tudor welcomed the progress on site: “Combined with other initiatives taking place, I am very optimistic that Haverfordwest Town Centre will become a thriving commercial and residential location of choice, creating a distinct destination and sense of place,” he said.

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Business

Businesses given opportunity to ‘meet the buyer’ for Greenlink interconnector

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A ‘Meet-the-Buyer’ day for potential suppliers will be held in Pembroke Dock on Wednesday 3 November for the Greenlink electricity interconnector project, which is scheduled to start construction in early 2022.  Greenlink will link the GB and Irish electricity transmission systems via 190km of underground and subsea cables between Pembrokeshire and Wexford, Ireland, and is one of Europe’s most significant energy infrastructure projects. 

The Meet-the-Buyer event will be an opportunity for businesses in the area to hear the latest news about the project, including the construction programme, to meet representatives from the appointed EPC contractors Siemens Energy and Sumitomo Electric, to discuss what their business can offer and to find out how to bid for contracts. 

James O’Reilly, CEO of Greenlink Interconnector Limited, said; 

“Greenlink will provide benefits to both Ireland and Wales in terms of employment, security of supply and the integration of low carbon energy sources. Greenlink, Siemens Energy and Sumitomo Electric are committed to offering local supply chain opportunities wherever possible and we encourage businesses who feel they can offer goods or services to come along and meet the team to find out more.” 

Chris Turner, Senior Project Manager at Siemens Energy said; 

“During the construction phase, there will be a requirement for a range of goods and services, from office cleaning, site security and local accommodation, to fencing, scaffolding and minor civils works.  We would encourage local businesses to check the full list of what we might be looking for and we look forward to discussing opportunities with them at the event.” 

Advance registration for the event is essential.  Meetings can be booked by visiting: https://wales.business-events.org.uk/en/events/greenlink-interconnector-meet-the-buyer-event/ 

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KFC Pembroke Dock will open doors officially next month following trial

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KFC in Pembroke Dock will open its doors to the public next month, following a trial run for friends and family of employees.

The store has also been opening for time-to-time without the drive-thru to the public, and queues have been long.

There has been some confusion with the public thinking that the outlet is already open properly, but friend chicken fans will have to wait a little longer for the entire service until the new store officially opens.

On their Facebook page the company said: “There’s been a lot of speculation, we did a test lunch on October 20 for friends and family.

“If all goes well we will be open very soon.”

A spokesperson for KFC Pembroke Dock later told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We’re looking for a grand opening on November 3, but that date could still change.”

KFC Pembroke Dock posted on Facebook on Monday saying: “Good evening to you all.

“As you may have noticed we have been temporarily opening our doors to help our staff training and test our equipment.

“This has not been an official open as nothing has been announced from us. “We still do not have an official full opening date as we are still managing some technical problems.

“We apologise for the queue times and wait times and assure you we are doing everything we can to get your food to you as soon as possible.

“I understand it can be frustrating. Our staff team are all working their hardest to deliver you gold standard products, and we will not tolerate any abusive behaviour towards any member of staff.

“Our delivery will be online soon after we officially open, along with drive thru.

“Thank you to everyone who has visited us already and we look forward to seeing you soon.”

Local Dai Morgan said: “I had food from you the other night and must say it was bloody lovely only a 20-minute wait for it which considering how busy it was that was OK can’t wait for the drive through to be open!”

Lynda Worrell said: “I went there this evening (Monday) and waited 50 minutes got home all my food was wrong, they shouldn’t open to the public if not ready or at lol least tell us that there still on a trial run.

Mike Axford-Miles replied by saying: “Calm down… they just opened the doors, new staff, new starts, I waited 30 minutes for fast food, I understand that they had been open for 1 day, so didn’t complain. Did you actually see how busy they were. They didn’t stop. And let’s face it, KFC coming to Pembrokeshire is like the second coming of Jesus Christ.”

New Pembroke Dock store as it neared competition earlier this month (Pic KFC Facebook)

DID YOU KNOW ?

KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky during the Great Depression.

KFC: One of the first American fast-food chains to expand internationally, opening outlets in Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico by the mid-1960s.

Sanders identified the potential of the restaurant franchising concept and the first “Kentucky Fried Chicken” franchise opened in Utah in 1952.

KFC popularized chicken in the fast-food industry, diversifying the market by challenging the established dominance of the hamburger.

By branding himself as “Colonel Sanders”, Harland became a prominent figure of American cultural history and his image remains widely used in KFC advertising to this day.

However, the company’s rapid expansion overwhelmed the aging Sanders and he sold it to a group of investors led by John Y. Brown Jr. and Jack C. Massey in 1964.

KFC was one of the first American fast-food chains to expand internationally, opening outlets in Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Jamaica by the mid-1960s. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, it experienced mixed fortunes domestically, as it went through a series of changes in corporate ownership with little or no experience in the restaurant business.

In the early 1970s, KFC was sold to the spirits distributor Heublein, which was taken over by the R. J. Reynolds food and tobacco conglomerate; that company sold the chain to PepsiCo.

The chain continued to expand overseas, however, and in 1987 it became the first Western restaurant chain to open in China.

It has since expanded rapidly in China, which is now the company’s single largest market. PepsiCo spun off its restaurants division as Tricon Global Restaurants, which later changed its name to Yum! Brands.

KFC’s original product is pressure fried chicken pieces, seasoned with Sanders’ recipe of 11 herbs and spices.

The constituents of the recipe are a trade secret. Larger portions of fried chicken are served in a cardboard “bucket”, which has become a feature of the chain since it was first introduced by franchisee Pete Harman in 1957.

Since the early 1990s, KFC has expanded its menu to offer other chicken products such as chicken fillet sandwiches and wraps, as well as salads and side dishes such as French fries and coleslaw, desserts and soft drinks; the latter often supplied by PepsiCo.

KFC is known for its slogans “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good!”, “Nobody does chicken like KFC” and “So good”.

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