A new advanced research and manufacturing centre in Flintshire will give the Welsh economy a massive £4 billion boost, according to Economy Secretary Ken Skates.
Mr Skates revealed he had approved funding to complete phase one of the development in Deeside which will help secure thousands of aviation jobs.
The news came at a meeting of at a meeting of Wrexham Business Professionals at the town’s Ramada Hotel where he addressed an audience of 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.
According to Mr Skates, the new centre will have a strong focus on sectors including aerospace, automotive, nuclear and food.
Airbus has already been confirmed as the new anchor tenant.
Mr Skates, who is also the AM for Clwyd South, said: “We are investing £20 million but the return literally is eye watering.
“Our £20 million will, according to independent analysis, deliver £4 billion for our economy.
“It’s vital we continue to deliver on our pledge to establish the Advanced Manufacturing Research Facility in Deeside targeting commercialisation, training and productivity.
“Welsh industry needs to remain competitive by adapting to modern techniques and understanding potential opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution which the proposed Research Institute will support.”
The geographic location and its proximity to the Northern Powerhouse had been a key factor in the Welsh Government’s decision to invest in the project.
Mr Skates added: “I know the enormous opportunity there is to build a new partnership with the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine over coming years.
“I understand the chance we have to support a more dynamic economy in the region through new infrastructure such as electrification of the North Wales mainline.
“We have already committed an additional £50 million to move forward our plans for the North East Wales Metro. I want to work with transport partners and local authorities in North Wales to develop and design the concept further.
“I want to work with partners over the border to build a transport system that reflects the cross-border nature of our economy and our communities in this part of the world. No fewer than 20,000 people every day cross an invisible border from Wales to England.
“And 20,000 people travel from England to Wales. Our economy is blind to administrative boundaries and we need to recognise this. Change is coming; there will be a new rail franchise, more, better and more frequent trains, a better rail specification for North Wales.
“There is change coming to our bus services too. We will invest in a service that is essential to the Metro plans as well as investing in a road improvement plan, bringing change to the A483, A494 and the A55. This is the biggest transport improvement package for North Wales since the dawn of devolution.”
Mr Skates says working together across the political divide and administrative boundaries has helped develop the concept of the North Wales Growth Deal.
He added “The vision sets a clear aspiration for a regional economy that is confident, strong and sustainable. This vision has been submitted to the UK Government for North Wales to open discussions over a Growth Bid for the region and I believe the time has come for the UK Government to step up its commitment to the region.
“It is essential the business community continues to be heard. I was proud to be able to announce £1 million of funding to establish a new entrepreneurship hub in Wrexham to support the creation of 100 new enterprises and 260 new jobs over the next two years.
“Delivered by Business Wales in association with Welsh ICE, the hub will be located in the heart of Wrexham and will provide a community for entrepreneurs with support from Glyndwr University and Coleg Cambria.”
“Work is already underway to recruit the hub’s first set of entrepreneurs with workshops being held to develop the hub and finalise the location.”
“Another key priority is the creation of the Development Bank of Wales which will build on the experience and expertise of Finance Wales.
“It will have the clear objective of providing greater levels of funding to small and medium sized enterprises while at the same time improving the integration of advice and support to businesses by working more closely with Business Wales.
“It’s one of the important reasons why I have said the new HQ for the Development Bank will be located in North Wales. A Development Bank of Wales for the whole of Wales.”
“I’m delighted to report that work is currently being carried out to identify suitable premises in the Wrexham area where the Development Bank will be based.”
Gill Kreft, the chair of Wrexham Business Professionals, told members of the group that Ken Skates was a politician of integrity and trust.
She said: “I’m delighted to have heard Mr Skates outline a new and exciting economic strategy for Wales and to hear how he is looking to work with the UK Government to build our future and deliver economic growth on a cross border basis.
“We were all excited to hear that plans for the new advanced research and manufacturing centre are moving forward and that the new Development Bank of Wales will be located in Wrexham.
“We have enjoyed a detailed and memorable speech by the Minister and I’m delighted to have been able to welcome him to our meeting.
“The Minister’s visit and address also came at a crucial time for the North Wales Growth Deal and I think we were all delighted to hear more about that as were about the planned improvements to the regions transport hubs.
“There is clear evidence of growing collaboration between key organisations in North East Wales and I’m glad to say that Wrexham Business Professionals is playing its part in bringing people and organisations together in partnership.
“Here today for example we have representatives from Glyndwr University, Wrexham Industrial Estate and the Deeside Business Forum and together we are forging a stronger, more vibrant economic future for the area.
“It’s clear we have a great deal to be excited about and confidence is high.”