Blaenau Gwent Considers Rebranding as “Enterprise Zone” to Attract Investment
THE whole of Blaenau Gwent should rebrand itself as an ‘Enterprise Zone’ in a bid to attract new investment, a councillor has suggested.
During a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Place scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, January 16, members discussed started out by asking what could be done with the vacant Tillery Valleys Food factory in Abertillery.
The factory closed in May last year with the loss of 250 jobs.
Director of regeneration and community services Ellie Fry said that firms in the automotive and food industry had been “looking” at sites in Blaenau Gwent as well other places around the UK to set up, but enquiries were going to the Welsh Government.
Ms Fry said: “There’s quite a lot of work to be done to the Tillery Valley Foods building if it were to be re-used.”
“We have a work force here that could work almost instantly for any business coming in.”
Cllr Wayne Hodgins said: “We’ve carried the label Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone for a number of years – are we in a position to widen that as we are Blaenau Gwent?”
Looking around sites for businesses his own patch of Brynmawr, Cllr Hodgins continued: “We have Tech Valleys and a number of successful businesses up on the Blaen Nant estate – so there’s a lot of opportunities for enterprise across the borough.
“Is there an opportunity with whoever gives us these labels to re-invent ourselves as: we are Blaenau Gwent Enterprise Zone, and a firm can set up anywhere where space is available.”
Ms Fry said “We are always looking at how we market ourselves as we want to ensure that businesses see us as a place for investment.”
Ms Fry explained that the Enterprise Zone is a specific area and calling the whole of Blaenau Gwent one would “confuse” people and businesses.
Ms Fry added that she had recently spoken to the Welsh Government who said that they are keeping Enterprise Zones.
But while marketing the whole of Blaenau Gwent as an Enterprise Zone might not be possible, there is an alternative Ms Fry told councillors.
Ms Fry said: “We have the Tech Valleys Initiative and would like to make that more of a brand for Blaenau Gwent.
“We are attracting a lot of tech businesses.”
Ms Fry added that she wanted to see Tech Valleys also promoted to local businesses as they could all benefit: “from some form of tech.”
Following the answer, Cllr Hodgins believed that they were “singing from the same hymn sheet,”
Cllr Jules Gardner added that Enterprise Zones are “tired” and draw business to just: “one specific town in the borough.”
Cllr Gardner said: “Marketing the entire borough as a Tech Valley gives you more scope and sites.”
What are Enterprise Zones?
Created by the Welsh Government there are eight Enterprise Zones across Wales.
They are designated geographical areas that support new and expanding businesses by providing business infrastructure and support and each has a focus on one or more key business sectors.
The Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone focuses primarily on the advanced materials
and manufacturing sector and is made up of four areas totalling
approximately 40 hectares of land that can be developed.
The Works/Festival Park;
Tredegar Business Park;
Rassau Industrial Estate.
What is Tech Valleys?
The Welsh Government backed Tech Valleys programme aims to make the South Wales Valleys a globally recognised centre for developing new technologies to support cutting edge industry.
The vision outlines the intention to build a new economy in Blaenau Gwent in the hope of creating 1,500 new jobs.
This would be based on collaboration between business, public sector and academia.
The vision highlights that £100 million of Welsh Government funding is supposes to act as a catalyst to draw further investment from both the public and private sectors.
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