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Welsh Business Experts Helping Deliver Swansea Bay City Deal

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Scarlets boss Nigel Short and Pobl Group Chief Executive Amanda Davies are among the Welsh business experts now helping deliver the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal.

They’re two of six private sector specialists in areas including finance, housing, energy, life sciences and manufacturing who sit on an Economic Strategy Board that forms part of the investment programme’s governance.

Functions of Economic Strategy Board members – who are unpaid – include providing strategic direction for the City Deal, reviewing project business cases, and making recommendations to the City Deal’s Joint Committee for approval.

The City Deal will help part-fund a number of major projects across South West Wales, including a digital indoor arena and digital village for tech businesses in Swansea, the ‘Yr Egin’ creative sector hub in Carmarthen, and the Life Science and Well-being Village planned for Delta Lakes in Llanelli.

Scarlets Rugby Chairman since 2010, Mr Short is also majority owner of the Penderyn Distillery which produces award-winning whisky and spirts in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons.

Mr Short said:

“The overall enabling element of the City Deal investment programme is critical – it’s about infrastructure, new technologies and the environment we create to allow smaller and medium-sized businesses to thrive. Ultimately, they are the generators of wealth and job creation in our economy.

“I think the private sector rigour that we can bring to the process will be important over the course of the City Deal. My credentials for the role include general business expertise in terms of the detailed financial analysis that you would apply when evaluating a business plan. It’s very important to me that we spend taxpayer money effectively. We have to keep every pound a prisoner unless we’re sure it’s being well-spent.

“Different members of the board will bring specific expertise, but I’ve done a lot of work in the renewable sector, including photovoltaic technology and biomass. I also have a lot of experience in the steel and housebuilding sectors.”

A regional Homes as Power Stations project is also due be part City Deal funded. Through the delivery of smart, low carbon, energy efficient homes across the Swansea Bay City Region, this project will tackle fuel poverty, cut regional carbon emissions and meet the need for housing.

Mrs Davies, who’s been Pobl Group Chief Executive for three years, said:

“What I’m especially interested in is how the City Deal positively impacts on the region’s communities and citizens. It has the power to create opportunities for people to access skills and high-quality jobs, which will enable prosperity in our communities.

“I care very much about creating great places to live and providing affordable housing, and there are projects within the City Deal that will create more affordable homes in our region because of the energy-saving solutions they’ll incorporate. This includes the pan-region Homes as Power Stations project, which will feature the construction of highly energy-efficient new homes – some of which are already being constructed in Neath.

“But the project is also about finding ways to make existing homes in the region more efficient by retro-fitting technologies such as photovoltaic and other solutions. This will make energy more affordable, and help increase the disposable income that families have.

“This project will also create skills, learning and jobs around the renewable energy sector – which is of real importance to the Swansea Bay City Region.”

Chaired by Ed Tomp – Managing Director and Vice President of Valero UK in Pembrokeshire – other private sector members of the Economic Strategy Board include Industry Wales Executive Chair

James Davies, Riversimple Financial Director Chris Foxall, and retired Consultant Surgical Oncologist Simon Holt.

The Swansea Bay City Deal is due to be funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector. It’s being led by the four Swansea Bay City Region local authorities, the two regional health boards, Swansea University and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.