The north Wales agri-food sector has received a significant boost with approval from the North Wales Economic Ambition Board (Ambition Board) of the outline business case for a new Rural Economy Hub.
Plans for Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Coleg Glynllifon near Caernarfon will provide food-grade units for regional start-up businesses as well as for those expanding from home-based production. The broader rural economy will benefit from access to the on-site Knowledge Centre, as well as regulatory expertise, business and innovation support and networking opportunities.
One of three projects included in the North Wales Growth Deal’s Agrifood and Tourism programme, the Hub aims to help food producers become more resilient through innovation and diversification. It is set to see a £10 million investment through the Growth Deal, a significant proportion of the £13 million project total.
Having secured approval for this first step, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai can now develop a full business case to secure funding that enables work to begin on the Hub from 2022.
Cllr Charlie McCoubrey, Leader of Conwy Council and the Ambition Board’s lead member for the Agrifood and Tourism Programme, said:
“This is great news for the sector and the rural economy across north Wales. This is the first project under our Agrifood and Tourism programme to reach this stage, marking another important milestone for the Growth Deal.
“The Hub will promote jobs and productivity in a sector which is so important to this region. I look forward to seeing how the initiative will bring new opportunities as well as encourage innovation among our food producers.”
The Glynllifon Rural Economy Hub is expected to deliver 96 full time posts in local food businesses with a direct economic impact of £45milion over the next 15 years.
Paul Bevan, Executive Director – Commercial Development at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai said:
“Coleg Glynllifon has a long history of delivering excellence and contributing to the rural economy in north Wales. We’re excited to be developing the new Rural Economy Hub which will further cement our reputation for promoting and supporting employment and training opportunities in this sector.
“Like most industries, the rural economy is at a turning point – and we must adapt and embrace future changes, this includes strengthening and promoting local supply chains to provide more opportunities for regional farmers and food producers.
“Providing access to purpose-built food grade premises and specialist technical support will create the ideal environment for businesses to establish themselves and grow, positioning the area at the forefront of food and drink innovation.”
Subject to securing funding and necessary consents, it is anticipated that construction of the Rural Economy Hub will begin on site in late 2022, with planned opening for 2024.
It is expected that Ambition Board will consider the Glynllifon Rural Economy Hub project’s full business case in late 2022.