Plans for an Investment Zone worth up to £160 million in North East Wales have come a step closer after the UK Government pledged to support it.
The news announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in the Autumn Statement yesterday has been welcomed by the leaders of the consortium which has campaigned for investment zone status for Wrexham and Flintshire.
Earlier this month the Welsh Government revealed they too supported the idea which could herald thousands of new jobs and a £1.7 billion boost to the region’s economy.
The Chancellor will tomorrow visit North East Wales, home to two of the largest industrial estates in Europe at Deeside and Wrexham and a thriving Creative & Digital sector, which will receive the investment for innovation, infrastructure and skills and training projects.
It will join English regions Liverpool City, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, the North-East, East Midlands and Teesside, along with two in Scotland, Glasgow City and North East Scotland, and another in Wales.
Subject to a business case the Wrexham Flintshire Investment Zone will have access to support worth up to £160 million over ten years, with the new status expected to leverage an additional £1.7 billion of investment for the area and help create thousands of new jobs.
The announcement has been welcomed by Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Wrexham-based outsourced communications provider Moneypenny, who has headed the campaign backed by JCB, Airbus, the North Wales Business Council, Net World Sports, Theatr Clwyd, Wrexham and Flintshire councils, Wrexham University and AMRC Cymru.
She said: “This is a very significant day not just for North East Wales but for Wales as a whole because it cements our place as a leader in the field of advanced manufacturing and the creative & digital sector, a place where internationally known businesses are keen to operate from.
“In these two sectors North East Wales is home to some of the biggest names in their fields including Airbus, Toyota, JCB, Eren, Theatr Clwyd, Moneypenny, Hoya Lens, Sharp, Net World Sports, Kronospan, Hydro Wrexham and Ifor Williams Trailers.
“This is a great place to do business and Investment Zone status will encourage further growth and investment with up to £160 million of support for the Zone helping to protect our tens of thousands of existing skilled jobs and create thousands more.
“These will be highly-skilled, well-paid jobs that create a range of excellent career options for our young people.
“It will lead to improved infrastructure and transport links and increased investment in skills and training and make North East Wales a hub for innovation and technology that is so important for the future, not just for manufacturing but in creative and digital sectors also.”
Wrexham and Flintshire Councils have played a prominent part in the campaign and Flintshire County Council Leader Ian Roberts said: “This is a landmark decision which will bring up to £160 million investment into Flintshire and Wrexham over the next ten years.
“It’s a tribute to the way our businesses and political leaders at local and national levels have worked together to make a cast-iron case for North East Wales as an Investment Zone.
“This massive investment will help to strengthen our key businesses, many of them household names, and bring in new companies with all that that means for jobs and prosperity.”
Wrexham Council Leader Mark Pritchard said: “This is a great day for North East Wales and a testimony to the way the region has come together to make the case for this vital status.
“We’ve had great support from the Welsh Government and it’s a richly-deserved reward for an area which is home to so many talented entrepreneurs and innovative companies who have helped drive this campaign forward.
“We have also had fantastic cross party support from our MP’s and MS’s along with the North Wales Business Council and so many leading businesses and organisations. Together we have made a really strong and successful case for this investment Zone in North East Wales.”