Speaking at a Swansea city centre conference organised by 4 The Region, Paul Harwood, co-founder of TechHub Swansea, has welcomed news that the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District project has been recommended for immediate approval.
Mr Harwood says the City Deal will help build on ongoing work in Swansea to further boost the city’s thriving digital and tech sectors. This includes the development of tech start-ups on High Street and the new University of Wales Trinity Saint David campus in SA1.
The Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District project is made up of a digital indoor arena and digital plaza, as well as new, high-quality spaces for businesses.
An independent review commissioned by the UK Government and Welsh Government into the City Deal found the business case for the project to be ‘fit for purpose’, along with the business case for the ‘Yr Egin’ creative sector development in Carmarthen.
City Deal funding for both these projects should be signed-off as soon as possible, the review says.
Mr Harwood said: “This is fantastic news for Swansea. It’s a great platform for the city to be able to find new businesses and new expertise. The City Deal will provide an opportunity to take on industries on a global scale.
“Swansea has always needed an arena of the size we are getting to host conferences, events and bands – so it’ll put us on the circuit. It’s a great opportunity to grow the city.
“But the City Deal has the potential to further boost the tech sector in Swansea as well. We have created hundreds of jobs at TechHub, with millions having been invested into the companies we have created. Swansea is a great place for the tech sector – people come here from all over the world because the spaces we have are so beautiful and the people are so friendly. This is already giving a great platform, but the City Deal will further enhance that.”
Gareth Davies, Coastal Housing Group’s Director of Development, has also welcomed plans for a digital indoor arena and high-quality spaces for businesses.
He said: “The arena will be hugely important for Swansea – it will have a massive impact. A facility of this nature has been missing from the city centre for too long. Swansea has proven itself to be a great host of events in recent years, including the big stars who took part in the BBC Biggest Weekend last summer.
“We’re also keen to ensure graduates coming out of the two universities in Swansea want to stay in the area to develop their careers and build a life here.
“We need to do our best to nourish and nurture the talent coming out of these universities. That includes the provision of good quality places to work with the digital infrastructure that’s needed, as well opportunities to find affordable accommodation - which is where Coastal Housing Group comes in.”
Russell Greenslade, Chief Executive of Swansea Business Improvement District (BID), said: “We can’t wait for the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District project to get off the ground and to see the cranes in the sky. The arena will lead to more investment in retail because of a business visitor economy, while there is also a need for more offices and more people living and working in our city centre. That’s what our businesses are telling us.
“This project will improve the economy and vibrancy of the area – not just from 9am to 5pm, but into the evening and night-time as well.”
The Swansea Bay City Deal will part-fund 11 major projects across the Swansea Bay City Region, which is made up of Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea. It’s being funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector.
The City Deal investment programme is being led by the four regional local authorities in partnership with the two regional health boards, Swansea University and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.