MDA chair and president meet to discuss the North East Wales, West Cheshire and Wirral economy…
Two senior figures spearheading the drive to support the economy in North East Wales, West Cheshire and Wirral say they’re optimistic about the future, despite tough times.
Mersey Dee Alliance (MDA) chair Councillor Mark Pritchard, and president Lord Barry Jones, recently met in Wrexham to talk about the challenges and opportunities facing the region.
Earlier this year, Councillor Pritchard took over as chair of the cross-border partnership, while Lord Barry has been president since 2015.
The MDA supports business, jobs and infrastructure across North East Wales, West Cheshire and Wirral.
Only recently, the partnership welcomed the cross-border response to support the Airbus workforce, following news of job losses at the aircraft manufacturer’s Broughton plant in Flintshire.
Challenges and opportunities
Councillor Pritchard said: “I’ve said previously that Wrexham, West Cheshire, Wirral and Flintshire are wonderful places in their own right. But we also have an incredibly strong economic bond, and our voice is so much more powerful when we work together.
“Covid-19 is having a huge impact on the world economy. Given the challenges our region is facing – including job losses in the aerospace industry – it’s more important than ever that we stick together.
“It’s also important to remain sighted on the opportunities we have, and the partnership will need to push ahead with its aim of attracting investment for the region.
“One of our goals is to further develop the economic potential of key employment sites, and that won’t change.
“With the right investment, these sites could create thousands of new jobs over the next 15 to 20 years, and there’s real reason to be optimistic about the future.”
A strong voice
Lord Jones has played a key role in helping to promote the aims of the partnership over the past four years, and says the MDA has a vital job to do.
He said: “As a partnership, it’s important we continue to strengthen links and infrastructure across Cheshire, Wirral and North East Wales.
“Our cross-border economy has tremendous potential, and by attracting the right investment, we can continue to support local industries and jobs.
“By making sure the region’s voice is heard, the MDA can play a key role in helping the region get through these difficult times – and then kick-on to even greater success.”
Did you know…
- The MDA area includes Flintshire, Wrexham, Cheshire West and Wirral.
- It has a population of almost one million people.
- It generates around £21.8bn GVA per annum, and is important to both the Welsh and English economies.
- It has a high concentration of advanced manufacturing, and important clusters of energy, aerospace, automotive, engineering, chemical and food processing industries, as well as professional and financial services.
- With the right investment, it’s thought these sites could create up to 50,000 new jobs over the next 15 to 20 years.
- Major employers include Airbus, Tata, Toyota, Vauxhall, JCB, Unilever, Cammell Laird, Bank of America, Essar, Encirc and Iceland Foods.
- 16% of the workforce (65,100 people) are employed in manufacturing / engineering, compared to the UK average of 9%.
- The partnership aims to further develop the economic potential of key employment sites across the region including Wirral Waters (part of Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone), Deeside Enterprise Zone, Wrexham Industrial Estate and Technology Park, Chester and Ellesmere Port (part of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone).
- Knowledge centres include the University of Chester and Wrexham Glyndwr University, Coleg Cambria, Cheshire College and Wirral Metropolitan College. Research and development also features largely at places like Thornton Science Park, Optic Glyndwr, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Cymru and the Maritime Knowledge Hub.
- The MDA holds six business breakfasts every year. They’re considered among the best networking events in the area and regularly attract over 150 delegates.