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Foundational economy funding boost for Mid and South West Wales

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PROJECTS to increase the number of local food businesses supplying the public sector and set up an apprenticeship scheme in the construction industry are among eight schemes to win Welsh Government funding from the new Foundational Economy Challenge Fund.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and Deputy Minister for Economy Lee Waters made the announcement during a visit to University of Wales Trinity Saint David, in Carmarthen today (Thursday, November 7).

They were met by catering staff who are part of a scheme being run by the Carmarthenshire Public Service Board, which is being awarded £100,000 to improve the procurement of local food from the area.

It is one of 52 experimental initiatives across Wales to receive a share of the £4.5m Foundational Economy Challenge Fund. The project will provide business opportunities for locally or regionally-based companies and bring environmental benefits by lowering food miles and associated carbon costs.

The foundational economy approach is being adopted by cities and regions across the world, but Wales is the first country in the world to embrace it on a national scale. It is made up of the everyday goods and services we all need and use with estimates suggesting it accounts for four out of every 10 jobs and £1 in every three we spend.

The Economy Challenge Fund aims to support a series of experimental projects which will enable the Welsh Government, with support from partners, to test how the foundational economy can best be supported.

Eight schemes in Mid and South West Wales will share almost £650,000 from the fund.

Speaking about the food procurement scheme in Carmarthenshire, Barry Liles, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Skills & Lifelong Learning), University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Chair of Carmarthenshire Public Services Board (PSB) said: “As a PSB we are really pleased to have been successful in our bid to the Foundational Economy Challenge Fund.

“Public sector procurement is an area that we as partners recognise as having scope to have a greater impact on local economic wealth and development and this something we will test and develop in our project. We will focus on public sector food procurement but we firmly believe that if we can develop a multi-agency progressive procurement methodology as part of this project, there would be scope to introduce this in other areas of procurement.

“Carmarthenshire has a rich history of food production and supply and as well as the economic benefits of enhancing the local supply chain we will also be looking at the potential health benefits for the pupils, students and staff that consume the food we procure, by promoting good food for all.

“We look forward to working with our PSB members and partners in the commercial sector to consider and develop opportunities for moving this much talked about agenda forward, learning from the other successful projects as we go.”

Another project to be awarded funding is being led by Cyfle Building Skills Ltd. It will receive £86,500 to work with construction employers and provide opportunities for apprentices to receive valuable work experience placements throughout the industry.

Anthony Rees, regional manager of Cyfle Building Skills, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding, which will be of huge benefit to our young learners.

“We see this project as providing the crucial, first stepping stone for them into the world of work and the construction industry specifically. It will both develop their skills and employment prospects, and provide a boost to the industry at the same time.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I’ve been delighted to visit University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s campus in Carmarthen to hear more about this innovative project which really puts a sense of community at its heart.

“Looking at ways of ensuring local food is used and enjoyed in the area where it’s produced will be a boost for businesses and ensure it doesn’t need to travel far which supports efforts to improve our environment.

“The Foundational Economy Challenge Fund is all about making a real difference to people throughout Wales. It aims to drive prosperity across the nation and reach out to communities.

“As a government, we are committed to supporting all parts of Wales and help safeguard and create jobs and build the economic growth that we all want to see.”

Deputy Minister for Economy Lee Waters said: “Supporting the Foundational Economy is a key priority for the Welsh Government. This is a vitally important part of the economy which makes a big difference to the livelihoods of many people as well as our cities, towns and villages.

“The standard of applications throughout Wales has been so high that we have been able to treble the amount available from the fund to £4.5m, supporting 52 projects.

“It’s been great to join the First Minister in Carmarthen to learn more about what it potentially a very exciting project and one which will change the way food is procured locally for the benefit of area’s communities.

“The Foundational Economy Challenge Fund is a clear demonstration of our commitment to supporting people in all parts of Wales today, tomorrow and into the future.”

More information on the successful projects can be found on the Business Wales website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/foundational-economy

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Business

Welsh Government releases additional £100M business support

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The latest phase of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund has benefited from the release of a further £100million from ministers within 72 hours of launch, due to a massive demand.

More than 6,000 grant applications from small and medium sized businesses and social enterprises were received within 24 hours of the launch on Friday – an unprecedented response, revealing the scale of the challenges facing Welsh businesses.

The Fund aims to complement and fill the gaps left by UK Government schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme, with grants of up to £10,000 for micro-enterprises and up to £100,000 for SMEs and a light touch appraisal system designed to get money to businesses with the minimum of delay – as well as a new loan fund administered by the Development Bank of Wales.

Less than three weeks since the First Minister announced the intention to create the Fund, the Welsh Government has released a further £100 million, taking the grant fund to £300 million. This will supplement this latest phase of support, providing non-repayable grants to microbusinesses, SMEs and those large businesses of critical, social or economic importance to Wales.

The Fund has been warmly received by trade union and business organisations, with the Institute of Directors calling it ‘very welcome news for business owners and managers who are desperate for all the help they can get at this difficult time’. The South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce has called ‘the rapid response to date’ of the Welsh Government in supporting the economy of Wales ‘impressive’. The Wales TUC welcomed ‘additional funding to address the gaps’.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said:  “We knew that even with the help offered by initiative such as the Job Retention Scheme, there was a massive need for quick access to grant funding if Welsh businesses were to survive this unprecedented economic shock. Whilst in order to make the scheme quick and simple we needed to take tough decisions over eligibility – like requiring businesses to be registered for VAT as a way of having to check on their trading history – it is clear from the level of response received that the Economic Resilience Fund is plugging a gap in UK Government support and providing much needed financial reassurance to many businesses at this challenging time. We will continue to review support and consider how we can develop it over the coming days.

“The rate of applications has been massive and unprecedented. This is the second time in a matter of weeks that access to Welsh Government funds aimed at easing cash flow pressures for Welsh business have quickly reached capacity, and we have responded with pace to release a further £100m into this phase of the fund.

“In these difficult and demanding economic times we have worked hard to free up resources to create such a large Fund despite the huge demands on our budget, and to strike a balance between supporting as many enterprises as possible and making a meaningful contribution to each one’s survival, as well as asking each recipient to sign up to the principles of the economic contract.

“Though we applaud much of what the UK Government has done, there is an urgent need to see more of the promised lending guaranteed by the UK Government getting to the front line. The UK Government must continue to support and press the high street banks to be much more responsive to the needs of our businesses at this difficult time.”

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “The Economic Resilience Fund is part of more than £2bn of support that we have made available to help businesses and charities during these incredibly difficult times.

“We know that support for business is crucially important but whilst we are doing everything we can in Wales to plug any gaps and provide the best possible financial support to businesses, it is clear there are further steps that the UK Government needs to urgently take.”

The Economic Resilience offers financial support to help businesses, charities and social enterprises deal with the coronavirus crisis and will be vital in helping organisations manage cash flow pressures. It is a unique additional funding stream for Wales and was designed to address gaps not currently met by schemes already announced by the UK Government, Welsh Government and Development Bank of Wales.

The first stage of the Fund saw the £100 million Development Bank of Wales’ loan scheme fully subscribed in little more than a week. Applications are currently being processed and some businesses have already received funding. It is anticipated that the Development Bank will have processed all applications received within the month.

To ensure that money reaches businesses as quickly as possible more than 120 additional Welsh Government and Business Wales staff have been diverted onto processing applications and supporting businesses and organisations in this latest stage of the Fund.

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Lampeter Co-op relaunches following £1.5M Investment

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The Co-op is set to serve-up a new-look food store in Lampeter this week (Thursday, 12 March) following a £1.5M, eight week, programme of works to transform the store.

The 14,500 sq ft store, which is located in Lower Bridge Street, supports 36 local jobs – including five new colleagues recruited – and runs on 100% renewable electricity.

It includes customer car parking, a Post Office, bakery and a free ATM alongside its focus on fresh, healthy products, food-to-go, Fairtrade products, hot food, award winning wines and, the Co-op’s exclusive new vegan brand, GRO.

The Co-op also provides a funding boost for local causes through its Membership scheme. Members receive a 5% reward on purchases of own brand products, and the retailer donates a further 1% to community causes. Last November the retailer shared £17M with over 4,000 community groups UK-wide.

In addition, students who are TOTUM cardholders – the new name for NUS extra – can pocket a 10% discount off groceries at the Co-op.

Lee Jones, Co-op Store Manager, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to make such a significant investment in Lampeter – the store has a great new look, and we are confident that the investment and improvements really will enable Co-op to enhance its choice and range and, better serve our community.

“Co-op is committed to connecting communities and making a difference locally, and our aim is to operate at the heart of local life. We want to let customers know that they can become a Member of their Co-op, and they can make a difference to local causes every time they swipe their Membership card when buying own branded products and services. We have received great feedback, the investment has transformed the store’s look and range, and we are looking forward to welcoming Members and customers into their Co-op now that works have concluded.”

The Co-op picked up the “Convenience Retailer of the Year” and “Food-to-go Retailer of the Year” titles at the latest Retail Industry Awards.

Co-op is owned by around 4.6M active Members, and alongside Food, it operates: Co-op Funeralcare, Insurance, Health and Legal Services.

More information about the Co-op is available by visiting https://www.coop.co.uk

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Laugharne Resort Creating 110 new jobs after £15million investment

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LUXURY Lodges is holding another recruitment day as it seeks to appoint up to 110 new staff
to support the £15million development of its Laugharne Resort and Milkwood House.

The investment will see the current 77 lodges at the resort being expanded to 125, and a
new, state-of-the-art £6million clubhouse, boasting an infinity swimming pool, outside
hydrotherapy pool, a panoramic sauna, and an elevated restaurant and bar.

The recruitment day will be hosted at Laugharne Resort and Milkwood House and is initially
looking to fill a first round of roles, including housekeeping, spa therapists, and food and
beverage roles.

Sharon Hurley, founder of Luxury Lodges, said:
“These are extremely exciting plans which will not only be improving the tourism offering in
the local community and South West Wales, but also help the local economy, and we are
proud of what we have created.

“We are delighted to host the recruitment open day and are inviting individuals who are
keen to work in the tourism industry and join our 40-person team. We will be recruiting an
additional 30 new members of staff to join the existing team for the initial opening of
Milkwood House in May 2020.

“As we move forward, with more lodges being built and other areas of the resort being
developed, our staff numbers will grow further, creating plenty of opportunities for local
people who want to be a part of what we do. We expect that will result in the creation of
110 new jobs overall.”

The initial roles Luxury Lodges are recruiting for include the following key staff members:

 Head Therapist (full time)
 Spa Therapists (full and part time) 
 Receptionist (full time) 
 Food & Beverage Supervisor & Assistants (full and part time)
 Housekeeping (full and part time) 

Anyone interested in finding out more information about the first roles can attend the Open
Day on Tuesday, March 3 at Laugharne Resort, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, SA33 4SG.

The day will be split into a morning (8.30am check-in) and afternoon (1pm) drop-in session.

Both will include registration, a talk with the Directors and Managers, followed by an
opportunity to have a 1-2-1 with the relevant staff members from the department
individuals are interested in applying for as well as a tour of the resort and clubhouse.
Anyone attending will need to bring a copy of their CV.

To apply and register interest in attending, follow this link

For more information contact Luxury Lodges Recruitment Manager Nathan Rowlands at
Nathan@luxurylodges.com

Luxury Lodges is a collection of hotel-quality, self-catering lodges across the UK, which
include Laugharne, Clowance and Burn in Cornwall, and Whitbarrow in the Lake District, a
UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

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