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Wales

Robert Lloyd Griffiths' Western Mail Column

25 Jan 2016

It has been an eventful month so far for the economy with some notable ups and downs. Of course, we cannot fail to be touched by the recent announcements at Tata Steel in Port Talbot and about the loss of so many jobs within the steel industry in Wales. 

We were then encouraged by the job figure announcements last week and also Friday’s announcement of the £500m redevelopment at Swansea Centre and the potential 1,700 jobs that will result from that proposed major transformation.

The regeneration, including an indoor arena and all the opportunities that offers; the beachfront restaurant quarter, hotels; housing and apartments; aquarium; state-of-the-art cinema and square, will be a truly exciting overhaul of the city’s landscape. 

What strikes me particularly is that many people I’ve spoken to about the Tata announcement feel a collective responsibility for doing all that we can to ensure that all those who are losing their jobs will be supported and helped and that future jobs will be safeguarded. 

Last week’s Tata task force meeting just goes to show that when difficulties arise, the business community, politicians and unions all come together to address what matters to us all in terms of going forward. 

In my role within the Institute of Directors, I am fortunate enough to be involved with new initiatives and opportunities where different organisations come together for the greater good and it is a part of my job that I particularly enjoy.

One such example of this is the launch this Friday of SE-Assist Wales, a scheme that provides interest free loans and finance to social enterprises. With interest free loans between £10,000 and £30,000 available alongside dedicated mentoring from corporate partners and access to business expertise to support social enterprise growth; Welsh social enterprises can apply for support to regenerate their business while supporting local communities. 

The IoD in Wales is a supporting partner in this tried and tested scheme that was first piloted in Brighton & Hove in 2012 and connects local social enterprises with larger local companies in order to inject prosperity into local communities. Here in Wales, much of the funding is being provided by leading insurer Legal & General. 
The company is a great example of a leading Welsh employer, with a 1,300-strong workforce in Cardiff and it is now helping social enterprises gain access to finance to help them get off the ground, in order to thrive and drive regeneration in Wales.

Supported by Welsh Government alongside founding partners the Wales Cooperative Centre, Business in the Community and the Charities Aid Foundation, who have all joined forces to bring the scheme to Wales, it really is an exciting prospect for us all.

Social Enterprises are a particularly important sector within the Welsh economy which have, over recent years, made significant advances for the benefit of communities across Wales. The Institute of Directors looks forward to working with the partners in this initiative and I’m particularly keen to see the project grow and prosper.

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