WREXHAM is to become home to a groundbreaking new bank, bringing with it a host of jobs and new businesses opportunities.
The first Development Bank of Wales is expected to provide the finance and business support to attract and retain micro businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within Wales – and it will be based in Wrexham.
Welsh Government economy secretary Ken Skates today confirmed the bank will be up and running by October.
And the decision to locate it in Wrexham – the precise venue has yet to be confirmed – has been welcomed by the town’s MP Ian Lucas.
With the town set to lose its tax office and the future of its courts still uncertain, Mr Lucas says the announcement has been well-timed.
He said: “It is excellent news and really for important to have this here in Wrexham for local businesses and employers.
“There is a lot happening here. For example Virgin Media are investing in Wrexham as well, so it establishes our position as a developing service economy which is important in attracting business here.
“This adds to the good news for North Wales as a whole, and Wrexham, but I am still concerned about the closure of the tax office and the lack of information about the future of our courts.”
He added: “We have had some investment from the private sector, and now the Welsh Government. It is time for support from central government.”
The Development Bank will seek to generate more than a billion pounds of investment to the Welsh economy over the next five years.
As the first of its kind in Britain, it will provide Wales with a competitive business edge over the rest of the UK.
Mr Skates has also confirmed a further £35 million of European Union funding will be added to the £136m Wales Business Fund announced last year, to support both start-up and existing small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across Wales.
This takes the new total of the fund to £171m and the economy secretary signalled further funding for the Development Bank would be announced later in the year.
Mr Skates, AM for Clwyd South, said: “I am delighted to confirm that following Welsh Government approval of the business case, the Development Bank of Wales is set to be up and running by October.
“The Development Bank will be the first of its kind in the UK, addressing current market failures within business finance and providing focussed support for micro, small start-ups and innovative businesses across Wales enabling them to become fitter, bigger and stronger.
“It will increase the availability of funding to SMEs to £80m per annum within five years and we anticipate that taking into account private sector leverage this will have a potentially transformational impact on the Welsh economy of over £170m per annum by 2021-22.
“To support the Bank we are extending the Wales Business Fund by a further £35m with EU funding.
“This will take the total of the fund to £171m, and we will have news of more money to support the Bank’s work later this year.
“The Development Bank will have its headquarter in North Wales with a strong presence across the whole of Wales and I look forward to the formal launch in October.”
The bank will differ from Finance Wales – which currently provides investment to small businesses – not only in terms of the increased scale of funding available but also in the way it develops new products.
An intelligence unit will be created, tasked with conducting research into the needs of Welsh businesses, enabling an improved response to changes in
supply and demand in the market.
It will increasingly become self funding with the business model assuming that it will no longer need grant support for operational costs from next year onwards.