North Wales’ business leaders were urged to take a proactive approach to opportunities presented by the Northern Powerhouse at the annual CBI dinner.
Keynote speaker Alun Cairns, Wales Office Minister, called on businesses to take the initiative and tap in to Westminster’s vision of developing the northern economy.
The CBI dinner brought together more than 150 of North Wales’ leading business and political figures at the St David’s Park Hotel, Ewloe.
Vale of Glamorgan MP Mr Cairns, pictured above with CBI North Wales chair, Tracy North, CBI Wales director Emma Watkins, and former BBC breakfast correspondent, Declan Curry, said: “The Northern Powerhouse presents an opportunity to redress the North-South economic imbalance – it should be grabbed with both hands.
“The challenge now is to ensure that North Wales is part of the economic revival that is taking place across northern parts of the UK.
“The links between North Wales and England’s northern cities are very important and we recognise that the border is fluid. Many people live and work on opposite sides of the border and travel across it each day.
“We have a wealth of industry that puts North Wales on the map as a global hub of manufacturing excellence.
“North Wales’ export base and reputation for big energy projects makes it a perfect partner for closer collaboration to expand the economy of the north as well as a dynamic small business sector across to Anglesey and Gwynedd.”
The call to action followed an earlier address by CBI North Wales chair Tracy North, who also urged members to be proactive in investigating opportunities within the Northern Powerhouse.
Tracy also called on members to help decide how the CBI contributes to the development of business across the region.
Tracy said: “As the new chair of CBI in North Wales, I’m reviewing what members want from us at a regional level.
“I’m going to be talking to as many of you as possible over coming weeks to find out what you think about how we engage with you.
“I’ll ask about the format and frequency of our meetings and what you think of our electronic communications.”
CBI Wales Director Emma Watkins said: “North Wales CBI members are rightly excited about the potential of a Northern Powerhouse. The devolution of key powers, like transport and planning, will give local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships the tools to develop ambitious economic plans and businesses in North Wales are keen to explore these new opportunities.
“But devolution is only a means to an end. Putting the right local structures in place is important, but supporting job creation and investment must remain the primary goal for all levels of government right across the UK.”
The event, which is regarded as one of the key dates in the North Wales business calendar, also included an after-dinner address from business and economics correspondent Declan Curry.
CBI Wales speaks for companies of every size, from the country’s biggest employers to small and medium-sized businesses. It is the main business organisation working with the Welsh Government to deliver a more competitive environment and create jobs.