The Chief Executive submitted a report, the purpose of which, was to update Cabinet on an application for funding to the Welsh Government Foundational Economy Challenge Fund and to seek Cabinet approval, to accept a funding offer and enter into agreements with delivery partners as appropriate.
By way of background, the report confirmed that the Welsh Government considers that the foundational economy consists of basic services and products that people rely on, that keep the population safe, sound and civilised. Examples of the foundational economy cited by Welsh Government were shown in bullet point format in paragraph 3.2 of the report.
The Head of Operations – Community Services explained that the Welsh Government’s approach to supporting and developing the foundational economy, focused on three areas, as were detailed in paragraph 3.4 of the report.
In support of this, the Welsh Government had established the following:-
· The Economic Action Plan (EAP) which has set the direction for a broader and more balanced approach to economic development with a shift towards a focus on ‘place’ and making communities stronger and more resilient.
· A Ministerial Advisory Board Task and Finish Group on the Foundational Economy to provide advice to Welsh Ministers on current and future interventions and best practice; support wider engagement with stakeholders in the foundational economy; and promote a joining-up of relevant government and non-governmental initiatives.
This included a £4.5m fund to support the Foundational Economy Fund.
Following the launch of the fund, Officers submitted a proposal for funding the B-Ridges project in July 2019.
The Head of Operations – Community Services then added, that Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) has received notification from Welsh Government that the proposal for the B-Ridges project has been approved. The B-Ridges project will have the strapline of: Bridgend County – Retail | Invest | Develop | Grow | Evolve | Sustain.
The B-Ridges project aims to create a support package to allow business start–ups in Bridgend and Maesteg town centres to become sustainable. These areas are targeted as they fall within the Valleys Taskforce area and are therefore eligible for the ring-fenced funding. Officers will however engage with other funders to seek opportunities to further extend the approach being undertaken by the B-Ridges project into other areas of the County Borough.
The proposal for the B-Ridges project has been offered a £75k grant towards a total project cost of £100k, with the gap in funding being supplemented by the ‘Kickstart’ funding programme.
The Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration advised that the funding would be helpful for businesses looking to set-up in the towns of Bridgend and Maesteg. He congratulated Officers for seeking out such funding opportunities.
The Leader added that if the scheme was successful and more funding was secured in the future, then we could look to implement this into other towns in the County Borough ie Porthcawl and Pencoed.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
(1) Noted the approval of funding from Welsh Government for the delivery of the B-Ridges project to trial new approaches to enable new foundation economy business to start trading from the town centres; support currently empty units to become occupied; provide business advice support to start-up foundation economy businesses; assist new business to create new jobs.
(2) Authorised the Head of Operations – Community Services, in consultation with the Section 151 Officer and Head of Legal and Regulatory Services, to enter into appropriate agreements to accept the funding and deliver the project.