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As enterprise zones go 'live', two projects could create 1,000 jobs.


THE Welsh Government's enterprise zones, which went "live" yesterday, could soon be boosted by two projects creating more than 1,000 jobs. Yesterday Business Minister Edwina Hart formally launched five enterprise zones in Wales. They include the financial and professional services zones in Cardiff, manufacturing in Ebbw Vale and aerospace at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, which as well as the aerospace park also includes Cardiff Airport.

Mr Hart was at the launch of professional advisory firm Deloitte's new Quality and Risk Operations Centre at the Fusion Point office scheme in the centre of Cardiff, where it is creating 100 new jobs.

The project is being backed with pounds 400,000 from the Welsh Government in training support over the next three years.

Deloitte considered a number of locations, including Prague and Cyprus, before committing to making its pounds 3m investment at the financial and professional services enterprise zone in Cardiff - which is being marketed as the Central Business District.

The centre, which will cover Europe, the Middle East, Australasia and Africa, has already recruited 50 staff However, it is understood that Deloitte is now considering its new Cardiff operation should also provide risk management services to its offices and clients in North America.

If approved it would create an additional 100 jobs in Cardiff. A decision in expected in June.

At the aerospace enterprise zone discussions are progressing to bring a major air maintenance inward investment into Wales, which could create between 1,000 to 1,500 jobs.

A final decision could be made next month, but is understood not to be contingent on the Welsh Government's negotiations with the UK Government over capital allowances for the zone in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Lead singer with heavy metal band Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson is understood to be looking to establish a commercial aircraft maintenance facility at St Athan.

His backers have identified the empty pounds 77m aircraft maintenance facility, as well as other facilities at St Athan.

Business Minister Edwina Hart yesterday visited British Airways Maintenance Cardiff (BAMC), which falls under the aerospace enterprise zone. BAMC has created more than 160 jobs over the past 12 months and is set to recruit a further 15 apprentices this year.

The Welsh Government said the St Athan Enterprise Zonehas the potential to deliver 10,000 jobs by 2025.

Mrs Hart said: "It's fantastic news for the local economy to have these high quality jobs in this area and to see BA willing to build on this investment as the months go by. This is a clear vote in favour of doing business in Wales and for the St Athan enterprise zone.

"We are not losing sight of the very real economic challenges faced by Wales - these zones are enabling business to create jobs and sustainable economic growth and I'm delighted to see them go live with this level of backing."

Earlier the minister visited Deloitte's risk management centre.

Mrs Hart said: "I am delighted to hear that Deloitte has already created around 50 jobs ... reaching this landmark figure in just a few months of operation is a significant achievement.

"This new enterprise zone is designed to spearhead the growth of financial and professional services economy. I am confident it will be a key lever to attract and retain world class businesses in Wales.

Director of quality and risk operations at Deloitte, Ross Flanigan said: "The success of this centre is founded on the quality and competence of the people here.

"As a major employer we are committed to developing these highly skilled jobs within Wales. The support of the Welsh Government will help us deliver an extensive training programme and develop talent locally.

The Welsh Government has a commitment of pounds 10m to support its enterprise zones from the UK Government.

It is in discussions over potentially up to pounds 100m to support the zones in capital allowances. So far only the enterprise zone in Flintshire has been confirmed as being in receipt of enhanced capital allowance support.

Director of CBI Wales Emma Watkins said: "The success of the zones will depend, to a large degree, on the commitment of all levels of government that operate within these zones to improve the local business environment.

"The zones will be attractive for new businesses only if the planning system is more responsive, if skills support is first class and if high quality commercial premises are easy to acquire.

"The UK government should support the Welsh Government by delivering enhanced capital allowances for all enterprise zones in Wales, this will be a significant part in the zones' overall ability to attract inward investment and create new jobs."

Welsh Liberal Democrats Eluned Parrott AM said "While any progress on enterprise zones is very welcome, I would not get too excited about this announcement.

"As Edwina Hart says in her letter to AMs it is 'just a first step'. There is still a lack of clarity as to what being an enterprise zone actually means."

ATTRACTIONS AS well as the pounds 10m consequential from the UK Government to support enterprise zones, the Welsh Government could provide financial fire power of its own, as well as ensuring they promote more businessfriendly planning regimes. Those in convergence areas, like the Ebbw Vale manufacturing zone, could also leverage in EU structural funding.

The Welsh Government is hopeful of securing a further consequential of pounds 100m from the Treasury in enhanced capital allowance for the zones, which will provide tax breaks for investment in areas like new buildings and plant and machinery The Welsh Government is in discussions with the UK Government over extending capital allowances beyond Deeside, confirmed as a recipient of allowances by Mr Osborne in last month's Budget.

The chairs of the zones are finalising membership of their panels; in the main, they will be drawn from the private sector.

It will be for each panel to come up with a wish list of initiatives for approval by Business Minister Edwina Hart and her officials.

There could also be a role for local authorities in supporting the zones - potentially through their own borrowing powers. In the case of Cardiff's enterprise zone, the council could look to provide support to developers by agreeing head leases on speculative office schemes, as well as securing finance against future business rates through tax incremental financing.

If Wales gets devolution of corporation taxes, it could set lower rates within the zones. It could also introduce a lower business rate within zones - particularly to companies relocating or investing in Wales.

The Welsh Government could also reintroduce empty-property reliefs to encourage development within the zones.


* The Cardiff Central Business District has a particular focus on the financial and professional advisory services.

The Welsh Government has provided pounds 400,000 in a training package to support Deloitte's risk management investment in the zone. * Anglesey- focused on the energy sector.

Deeside - advanced manufacturing sector. * St Athan - with a focus on the aerospace sector, also covering Cardiff Airport. * Ebbw Vale - with a focus on the manufacturing sector.

In terms of finance the zones will share in a pounds 10m Barnett formula consequential from the UK Government, following its decision to set up 21 enterprise zones in England.

The Welsh Government is continuing its negotiations with the UK Government after it confirmed enhanced capital allowances in last month's Budget for the Deeside zone, which it said could support 5,000 new jobs in Flintshire.

The exact amount has yet to be determined for Deeside, but the Welsh Government is hopeful of a total budget of pounds 100m in enhanced capital allowances for its zones.

The Welsh Government has also announced preferred locations for enterprise zones at Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia, and the Haven Waterway in Pembrokeshire.


* Ross Flanigan, director, of Deloitte at its Quality and Risk Operations office, officially opened by Edwina Hart PICTURE: Huw John
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 3, 2012
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