TALK OF THE TOWN; THE Comprehensive Spending Review Means Hard Times for Our Public Sector: Job Losses, Efficiency Savings and Slashed Services Are Expected. So What Are Councils' Economic and Regeneration Departments Doing to Stem the Tide in North Wales? in the Second of a Series, Business Post Spoke to Councillor Rodney Skelland, Wrexham Council's Lead Member for Regeneration and Corporate Governance

Article excerpt

WREXHAM will look to retain its position as a "commercial pace-setter" in 2011. As this is the town's official Year of Culture, an extra 160,000 visitors are set to visit, especially when the National Eisteddfod pitches up for the first time since 1977.

That's on top of the 1.2million visitors already projected; stirring business and culture together will be more important than ever.

Councillor Rodney Skelland, Wrexham council's lead member for regeneration and corporate governance, agrees.

He said the strategic aim is to stimulate tourism, as "growth equals jobs".

In an exclusive interview with Business Post, Cllr Skelland said: "It's clear the world is going to need time to haul itself clear of recession and there's little point pretending that Wrexham is immune to global economic influences.

"However, it's fair to say we have a huge amount to be positive about and I'm confident that the innovation, resilience and entrepreneurship we have in Wrexham will help our economy survive and thrive.

"There is so much going on here. Projects that are helping to create the right physical environment for business - breathing new life into commercial buildings, working towards new low carbon business space and opening up industrial areas with new road infrastructure.

"We're also helping to provide the right support for businesses to set up, expand and flourish - expert advice, mentoring, training and grant schemes."

He added: "On top of all this there are some big tickets that will really help raise the profile of Wrexham over the next few years, including the National Eisteddfod and the World Heritage Site, putting us firmly in the shop window and encouraging tourists and investors to spend their money here.

Wrexham's regeneration department stressed job creation means enhancing the perception of the town as a place for investment.

"Investment equals growth. Hence a cycle of growth, employment and perceptual change is created," added Cllr Skelland.

Upcoming projects will see more than pounds 2.8million pumped into helping rural tourism and community-based businesses through Rur Development Plan (RDP) projects, funded by the European Union.

community-based businesses through Rural Development Plan (RDP) projects, funded by the European Union.

This will include helping businesses tap into the economic potential of W Site, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal.

This will include helping businesses tap into the economic potential of Wales' newest World Heritage Site, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal.

On top of this, the council and its partners will continue to encour around the WHS - including tr and tourist facilities - helping to attr spending visitors.

On top of this, the council and its partners will continue to encourage investment in infrastructure around the WHS - including transport links, signage and tourist facilities - helping to attract and support spending visitors.

Cllr Skelland said: "We'll see the Townscape Heritage Initiative continue to breathe new life into the physical heart of Cefn Mawr, with over pounds 250,000 set to be pumped into renovating commercial and residential buildings in 2011, and a total of pounds 1.2 million of investment over the next five years, all with the help of the Heritage Lottery Cllr Skelland said: "W Heritage Initiative continue to breathe new life into the physical heart of Cefn Mawr, with over pounds 250,000 set to be pumped into renovating commercial and residential buildings in 2011, and a total of pounds 1.2 million of investment over the next five years, all with the help of the Heritage Lotter Fund. …