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Economic fund is set to target Welsh heartland; Arfor Fund to promote enterprise and language.

Byline: OWEN HUGHES Business Correspondent

THE Welsh language heartlands are being targeted with an economic fund to boost business and keep young people in their communities.

The Arfor Innovation fund, a product of the Welsh Government's budget agreement with Plaid Cymru, will target support in Gwynedd, Anglesey, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

There will be a particular focus on areas where there is a high percentage of Welsh speakers and an inflow of older people and outflow of younger people.

It will also focus on areas where foundational (SMEs rooted in local communities) and agricultural economies are of vital importance and in market and university towns where low incomes remain an issue.

The funding is being made available to the four local authorities and will look to facilitate new and innovative methods to supporting economic development in the region, by: | Promoting enterprise and supporting business growth in areas with a high proportion of Welsh speakers. | Generating more and better paid jobs to retain local people in these areas and encourage those who have left to return.

| Promoting the wide ranging value of the use of Welsh and bilingualism in business creating a vibrant sense of place.

| Encouraging the businesses and people who move to rural areas to value and use the Welsh language.

Economy Minister Ken Skates said: "This innovative programme, based on extensive discussion with local authority partners, aims to test out new approaches to promote entrepreneurship, business growth and community resilience in the four local authority areas, with a focus on promoting the use of the Welsh language. The Economic Action Plan has been very clear on the need for Welsh Government to support all parts of our economy to drive up skills, encourage innovation and identify and utilise emerging technology.

"I am therefore pleased to provide PS2m funding over a two year period to support this initiative which will help guide and inform future activity in areas where we know the rural and foundational economies are of paramount importance, our Welsh speaking and rural heartlands."

Gwynedd County Council will coordinate the programme on behalf of the four local authorities to minimise costs.

Gwynedd Council Leader Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn said: "Today's announcement is a significant step forward in our joint efforts to build a prosperous and sustainable future for the people and communities of Anglesey, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Gwynedd and a vibrant future for the Welsh language across the region. We very much hope that this will be the first phase of a project that will both boost the Arfor economy and contribute towards the government's target of a million Welsh speakers by 2050."

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 27, 2019
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