Increasing Prosperity for the People of Pembrokeshire


In this week's exclusive column, Mark Powney, MD at Business News Wales, explores how Pembrokeshire could increase it's prospect of prosperity

Growing up in Milford Haven I have had first-hand experience of the issues holding Pembrokeshire back as an economy.

My family all grew up and worked within the oil refineries and supply chains, industries that our young people are no longer naturally aspired to move into… I left Pembrokeshire over 20 years ago, but Pembrokeshire has never left me.

It’s not just me that feels this way. Many of the movers and shakers from all over Wales, in Government, Business, even the FSB and BBC are from Pembrokeshire. I have met many of them professionally through my role in Business News Wales and one thing I have picked up is that the Pembrokeshire diaspora is ready and available to help, they just need a guide to do so.

If Pembrokeshire is to thrive over the next decade the county needs to look forward and ascertain what a future economy may look like. Without a watertight plan to realise this, my worry is Pembrokeshire will miss out on big opportunities that lay ahead.

To grow economic prosperity for everyone in Pembrokeshire we need a strong inward investment and business support team.

Within the next 5 years Pembrokeshire will be close to 100% digitalisation. The arrival of 5G and high-speed internet connectivity, will mean that those businesses that operate online can work from any location and this will place Pembrokeshire high up on the aspirational places to live map.

There is a huge inward investment opportunity for Pembrokeshire within the digital economy and the attraction of digital businesses that have a high dependency on internet connectivity.

These businesses will always need a city HQ, however due to internet connectivity advances their workforce can operate from anywhere in the world and there lies the opportunity for inward investment.

Pembrokeshire needs more office space provision or at least planning licences in place to do so; not just standard four wall office space but inspirational places to work. If you asked CEOs and MDs about their dream office location and environment, overlooking the wild sea surrounded by countryside would be high up on their wish list.

High net individuals who are expanding their businesses into the digital industries sector will find it particularly hard to fill vacancies in the future. The Pembrokeshire lifestyle solution could very well help them find and attract talent, particularly those bringing up a young family.

Young people are naturally seeking out digital opportunities, after all they were born into digitalisation and they know no different. For them it’s their future and they lose trust in anyone who tells them otherwise.

Train them, empower them and help create the digital workforce of the future.

The life experience is what are young people are striving to achieve. They have very different assumptions around morality, success and the environment. The world has been developed to support them and they expect very different work and employment solutions than previous generations.

Creating a future is not for ourselves and the now, but for the generation that follows us. It’s our responsibility to leave a legacy!

The Future Generations act in Wales has changed the way in which the Welsh Assembly will govern us in the future. The M4 relief road decision has set a precedent and all future Welsh ministers will have to follow the trend. After all, the Welsh Government has acknowledged the environmental emergency.

The economic drivers of government are now legally aligned to the protection of ‘the environment and future generations’ and this will help sell Wales and potentially Pembrokeshire to the world.

The renewable energy market is going to be worth $1,512.3 Billion by 2025. Pembrokeshire is in a good place to take a large stake in this market.

Furthermore, the tech automotive industry is already moving its focus from driverless cars and into the automated mass transport market.  Transportation problems of today will be very different in the future and this will be good for Pembrokeshire’s freight sector.

Converting all of our brownfield sites into centres of freight storage and centres of renewable energy creation should be a priority.

Welsh Government emerging policies are supporting renewable energy growth, expanding investor interest in the sector is at an all time high and advancing technologies that boost wind, wave and solar are increasing their value to the grid. Battery storage technology firms are growing their expertise for integrating intermittent renewable power into the grid. This is a big trend and an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed in Pembrokeshire.

Following a round table event Business News Wales co-hosted in Oct 18, leaders from Pembrokeshire Council, Development Bank of Wales, FSB, Planed, Chamber Of Commerce and representatives from the Marine energy industry, some of the county’s most influential business leaders, were all asked the question – Can Pembrokeshire become the green capital of Europe?

The answer was a resounding YES!

Our vulnerable coastline is our biggest asset and must be protected at all costs. Converting our oil dependent refineries into a 100% renewable energy industry is a natural way to correct this imbalance.

Is it impossible that Pembrokeshire communities could own renewable and low-cost energy supplies within 10 years?

Community owned businesses are the future and those that disagree are living in the belief that business owners should be allowed to create irresponsible levels of wealth.

A cultural change to business is already happening within the community and social ownership business models. Created by philanthropic idealists the model is now a very attractive opportunity for employees to own the wealth in the profit of the company they work for.

Social enterprise is a concept that is naturally linked to Welsh Government priorities and will see employee ownership sitting at the heart of business models of the future.

Social Business and employee ownership is recognised by many as a key route to advancing regional sustainability and economic regeneration and is well suited to the food, agriculture, tourism and energy markets: all key industries for Pembrokeshire. Community ownership is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed for the people of Pembrokeshire.

Selling the Pembrokeshire offer will be critical, and that responsibility is not an area local government should be exclusively responsible for. A local authority is not naturally designed to seek out commercial opportunities.

Local governments were created to govern and that’s what they do well. They have enough to deal with. Their role is to steer business and, with transparency and due diligence, empower business where they can.

Pembrokeshire Council has the opportunity to embrace social business models and use the powers they have to ensure the profits generated from business in the region, goes into the hands of the people of Pembrokeshire.

More About Mark Powney

Mark is a passionate Welshman from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.

With over 15 years experience, he considers digital publishing, digital engagement, recruitment marketing and advertising (all media), digital video production, creative design and more recently social media development as his core knowledge and where a lot of his experience lays.

He has very strong business ethics, built on transparency and trust and equally as important, he enjoys close working relationships with all clients.