Assembly Voice: 18 June 2018

Small and medium sized enterprises are the lifeblood of the Welsh economy. 99% of Welsh businesses fit into this category, and they employ over half of the workforce in the private sector. They are the lynchpins of our town and village high streets, providing important local services and are key to enhancing the economic performance of the Northern Valleys.

As part of my role as AM for Cynon Valley, I get the chance to meet impressive local businesses throughout the length and breadth of our community.

I recently visited one such business based in Hirwaun – Pontus Research. Founded by Director Dr Jack James, Pontus are a research and development service provider, who offer high quality professional services to the aquaculture, marine and aquatics sectors. An award-winning business, it was very interesting to see their cutting edge research facilities.

I also went to see Ray and Tracy Davies, of Grey Trees brewery in Aberaman. Grey Tees are another award-winning business, and are really making a name for themselves as the brewers of a range of top quality, made-in-Wales beers and ales. It was great to get a tour of their facilities, and to learn more about the brewing process.

Two award winning, locally based businesses achieving success, creating jobs and contributing to the local economy.

But my visits also enable me to better do my role as AM, giving me a more deep-rooted understanding of the policy context we need to create so that these businesses can grow and develop.

It is critical that any support provided by government is purposeful, but also that it adheres to the principle of public investment with a social purpose. The Welsh Government’s new Economic Contract, launched in Abercynon, seeks to achieve this, as firms seeking support must now actively commit to the principles of growth, fair work, health, skills and learning and decarbonisation.

The Welsh Government has also announced a new pilot recycling waste paint in Bryn Pica, as part of its Better Jobs Closer to Home. All this is about helping the Valleys thrive, and its residents enjoy good quality work opportunities.