A pro-business package that includes a new £136m fund and the establishment of the Development Bank for Wales will transform the financial support on offer to Welsh businesses.
This was the message from Economy Secretary, Ken Skates as he launched the new Wales Business Fund at an event in Cardiff.
The Economy Secretary said the new fund, which is backed by Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund, was the largest EU fund to be launched in Wales since the referendum and would offer £136m worth of flexible funding solutions to businesses based in Wales, helping them to accelerate their plans for investment and growth.
The fund will be complemented by the establishment of the Development Bank for Wales which will ensure improved access to finance for SMEs and significantly drive up investment in Welsh business.
The Economy Secretary announced that work to establish the Development Bank was progressing well and that the Welsh Government had received and was evaluating a detailed business case with a view to the Development Bank being up and running by the second quarter of 2017/18.
Ken Skates said:
“I am committed to creating a fair and prosperous economy that benefits everyone in Wales - and that means increased support for our businesses.
“The Wales Business Fund will mean Welsh SMEs can collectively access up to £136m of financial support over the next seven years, ensuring they are well placed not only to develop their home markets but also to compete internationally.
“This support will be complemented by the establishment of the Development Bank for Wales which will further support Welsh businesses to access finance and ultimately help us to safeguard and create jobs right across Wales.
“Our work to establish the Development Bank is progressing well and we have now received a fully costed business plan from Finance Wales which would see them evolve into the Development Bank for Wales.
“ Work is now ongoing to fully evaluate the costs and benefits of that plan with a view to the bank being up and running in the second half of next year.
“I am committed to a Development Bank for Wales that transforms and improves access to finance for SMEs and is closely integrated with the advice and support services provided by Business Wales.
“The key aim of the Development Bank is to increase investment levels to Welsh business and enable our economy to thrive. This is more important than ever as we seek to increase business confidence in the wake of the EU referendum and I will be looking to the Development Bank to drive up investment levels to £80m per annum within 5 years.”
Giles Thorley, CEO of Finance Wales added:
“The launch of the £136m Wales Business Fund and the exciting progress that’s being made with plans for the Development Bank for Wales is a significant boost to the Welsh economy. Our new fund, part of more than £700m of funds managed by the Finance Wales Group, offers flexible investments to Welsh small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are the lifeblood of the Welsh economy and we’re proud to support them.
“Funding remains available for Welsh businesses, despite the recent Brexit vote. EU structural and investment fund projects – like the Wales Business Fund – which have been approved prior to this year’s autumn statement are guaranteed funding.
“With this new fund and our evolution into a Development Bank for Wales in the coming financial year we’ll be able to build on our existing experience, offering flexible finance solutions to a range of businesses. The new package outlined by the Welsh Government will attract both international companies and help home-grown entrepreneurs. Wales is a great place to do business and we’re committed to supporting a strong business environment.”