CEO Comtek Network Systems UK Ltd and chair, DBF
North Wales has truly developed a world-class food manufacturing sector which enables it to compete at an international level.
For decades North Wales has concentrated on developing a brand in producing some of the safest and highest food manufacturing standards in the UK.
Some of the brands, such as Iceland in Deeside Industrial Park, have been recognised for their quality all over the UK.
We have hundreds of start-ups entering the sector every year. We have a well-developed agricultural sector that supports food manufacturing with great raw material supplies at their doorsteps.
The agri-food sector contributes about £122 billion to the UK’s economy and employs over 3.5 million people.
Unfortunately, although this sector provides thousands of manufacturing jobs and creates wealth in North Wales, it has not been recognised as much as it deserves by the UK and Welsh governments.
Now it’s the time for our own homegrown economic development team, the North Wales Economic Ambition Board (NWEAB), to take the control of the initiative of recognising and supporting this economically crucial sector.
Since the formation of the NWEAB, we are seeing a noticeable sea change in support and an energetic movement in developing North Wales’ key infrastructure and economic sectors.
The NWEAB board is using its £240million award, received only six months ago, in supporting North Wales’ infrastructure and businesses.
One such impressive project is the ‘Glynllifon Rural Economy Hub’. This outstanding agri-food sector project is what North Wales desperately needs.
It supports the food sector by creating a knowledge-based hub for the industry. They are utilising the cream of the knowledge that already exists within our universities, colleges and the industry, establishing impressive centres of excellence for training and support for the new entries to the sector.
This agri-food sector knowledge powerhouse will help the region to create the most modern food industry within Europe, hence creating more skilled manufacturing jobs in North Wales.
These types of locally-based support projects are the only ones that will work and have a real impact on North Wales’s economy.
Only local economic development organisations, such as the NWEAB (six councils) that have arisen and grown from our communities will ever understand the real needs of our region.