Cardiff Breakfast Club 20th February – Edwina Hart AM

Posted: February 20, 2013 in Business/Cardiff News, Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
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Breakfast ClubEdwina Hart AM, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science was the guest speaker at this morning’s fully-booked Cardiff Breakfast Club meeting.

Edwina began by discussing the city region concept, the progress of which has been followed with much interest by the Cardiff business community. While an important concept, making it a reality is difficult. Edwina expressed her gratitude towards the report produced by a group chaired by Dr Elizabeth Haywood, and stated that the Welsh Government would be ‘tentatively’ moving forward with its findings by establishing task and finish groups with close ties to local businesses. Issues surrounding transportation and concerns over the impact of a Cardiff city region on more rural areas were also discussed, with Edwina highlighting the need for effective broadband and 4G networks to support businesses outside of the city centre.

Links to local business continue with Edwina’s intentions for the area’s two enterprise zones, in Cardiff city centre and at St Athan. Rather than appointing the ‘usual suspects’, these are entirely private-sector led. Panels made up of key private sector individuals have been established and are working very successfully to lead the zones’ development.

Edwina also acknowledged Wales’ ‘integral’ creative industries, ‘small companies who often operate on a global stage’. She called the arts a ‘tremendous selling point for Wales’, using the significant interest from film makers as an example of how the creative sector is ‘taking the lead’.

Edwina stated that Wales has ‘got to fight for it’ in order to maximise its potential for business growth, competing not just with London but also internationally. While ministerial and departmental trips are often criticized, Edwina emphasised that Wales must ‘be prepared to go out there to get their business’, tellingly adding that ‘everyone else does it’. Wales must not only ensure ‘we have the right offer’, but also proactively champion that offer to external investors.

Edwina also introduced Derek Jones, the most business-friendly Permanent Secretary’ she has worked with. Derek has spent time visiting companies both to understand their experience and to learn how they consider the department, reflecting Edwina’s aspiration for the Government to have an honest and open dialogue with business in Wales. Throughout, Edwina emphasised the need to listen to the private sector to deliver her department’s priorities: prosperity, growth and jobs. She asked those assembled to ‘bring their ideas, scan the horizon and let us know where you want to be’.

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