More than 500 new companies have been set up in Wrexham in the past seven years, it’s been revealed.
The boom in start-up firms was evidence of the dynamism of the town’s economy, according to the Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns.
He was speaking at the annual pre-Christmas gathering of Wrexham Business Professionals (WBP) at the Ramada Plaza Hotel.
Swansea-born Mr Cairns, who represents the Vale of Glamorgan for the Conservative Party and is also a former Welsh Assembly Member, was addressing 170 business leaders.
The group is made up of successful businesses and highly skilled professional firms of solicitors, accountants and other business professionals working together to raise the profile of enterprise and expertise that exists in the region and beyond.
Mr Cairns paid tribute to the group as a “key influence” behind the decision to build the new HM Prison Berwyn in Wrexham ensuring that major contracts went to local firms.
Describing the North Wales economy as a “beacon for investment and job creation”, he said: “The growth rate in the region is faster than the UK average and the unemployment rate is just 3.6 per cent.
“In Wrexham there is a dynamism in the economy. Five hundred new businesses have started since 2010, proving that North East Wales is a fantastic attraction to investment.
“These are exciting times and there has been a huge amount of activity going on here in Wrexham recently.
“In just the last few weeks two life sciences companies have announced plans to invest in the area, with one investing £22 million in a new unit from which it will export to more than 80 countries around the world.
“In the recent Budget announcement, the Chancellor set out plans to increase the Welsh Government’s budget by £1.2 billion and build an economy that is fit for the future. He also confirmed that the UK Government will now turn its attention to delivering a growth deal for North Wales. This means we are now in a position to look at particular projects.”
Mr Cairns said he had set himself a number of key challenges for the next few years, which included encouraging local governments in Wales to respond to the dynamic developments in devolution n the English side of the border and ensuring that North Wales is in the best possible position to take advantage of Brexit.
Turning to Brexit, Mr Cairns said the UK Government was making “positive progress” in the negotiations with Europe.
“We are focusing on getting the best deal for every part of the UK and I firmly believe that with every challenge created by Brexit comes an opportunity,” he explained
“I want to create an outward looking and ambitious Wales which is at the heart of a global Britain and I want to make North Wales the gateway to Europe.”
Praising WBP, he said: “Your organisation is crucial to supporting local businesses and jobs and driving wealth creation.
“Your organisation was a key influence behind the decision to build the new HMP Berwyn in Wrexham and you similarly influenced the procurement process that meant major contracts went to local firms.
“You are pivotal to the future of North Wales and I thank you for all the work you have done.”
WBP chair Gill Kreft thanked Mr Cairns for recognising the valuable regional contribution made by the group and for sharing his “optimistic vision” for North Wales.
She said: “Our group keeps growing because we share the same values, putting responsible business at the heart of what we do and powering regional prosperity for the benefit of the whole community.
“Our ethos is grounded in sharing and partnership working, bringing together the worlds of entrepreneurs, politics, education, the professions and all types of business, large and small.
“The next couple of years including the Brexit negotiations are going to be difficult for the Welsh and UK Governments. But, as always, we will play our part.”
Members were entertained by comedian Gary Marshall before raising more than £3,000 of pounds for the NSPCC via a charity raffle and auction.
To find out more about Wrexham Business Professionals go to: www.wrexhambusinessprofessionals.com/about