Swansea Council have unveiled economic plans for the city which they say aim to help lead the way into the post-pandemic era.
A package of measures designed to help revitalise tourism, the city centre and support job creation were approved by Cabinet on Thursday to seize opportunities to transform Swansea in the months and years ahead.
It comes after Full Council agreed a £20m stimulus fund to help businesses and communities emerge quickly from the pandemic.
Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: “There is no doubt that the pandemic has transformed our city. It has been a very tough time for thousands of businesses.
“Now, thanks to the brilliant work of our NHS, we can look forward to restrictions easing and the return of a degree of normality.
“Our economic recovery plan aims to hit the ground running, to take advantage of the opportunities on offer to revitalise tourism, investing in our strengths like rural and city centre businesses, protecting and creating thousands of jobs as we go.
“Despite the pandemic the Copr Bay initiative has made incredible progress and will be a key factor in supporting the city centre economic revival in the months and years ahead.
“At the same time we’re planning to work with our communities, the Welsh Government and other partners to regenerate district centres too. This will be supported by the £20m stimulus package of support agreed at Council last week.
“We’re also looking to champion our local food producers in new and innovative ways – ranging from marketing campaigns to creating new opportunities for small and micro-businesses to grow and sell their food locally and further afield.
“Tourism in Swansea employs around 5,000 people and generates around £420m a year in economic benefit for the city. Along with hospitality businesses it has borne much of the brunt of the pandemic.
“That’s why, working together locally and with Welsh Government, we’ll be doing all we can to capitalise on growing interest in UK staycationing this summer and in future years.”
Cllr Stewart said: “Of course, this is the start of our story of recovery and much will depend on how quickly the UK and Wales can emerge from the pandemic.
“But our message to the people of Swansea and to the rest of the UK is that Swansea is ready to welcome you back safely.”
Among the highlights of the Economic Recovery Plan:
- Supporting businesses by ensuring they continue to have access to grants. Already more than £135m has been shared to help support them through the pandemic
- Financially supporting businesses to adapt to new trading conditions such as social distancing through outdoor trading.
- Accelerate investment in city centre living to boost footfall for retail business in the area.
- Investment in infrastructure improvements for cycling to district centres and the city centre
- Two major tourism marketing campaigns for the spring and summer months to encourage staycationers to visit Swansea.
- Exploring the potential to re-purpose vacant space in the city centre for new and growing businesses and for cultural and creative shows and events.
- Championing local food by working with local producers to develop and market their produce through the Swansea Food Partnership, online food sales and marketing hubs. Encourage night-time street food markets
- Enhance skills and training opportunities so those who’ve lost their jobs or need re-training don’t miss out on new jobs being created.
Cllr Stewart said: “Swansea’s economic recovery plan will belong to the people of Swansea and will develop as the post-pandemic period evolves.
“With the pandemic behind us and a future involving a new 3,500-capacity arena, more residential living in the city centre and high-tech business development in the pipeline we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform it for the years ahead.
“The recovery plan also focusses on people, businesses and jobs. People who’ve lost their jobs will need re-training and businesses may also need to change the way they operate. The recovery plan will help.
“There are some quick wins for tourism and some longer-term opportunities highlighted as well. As a council we were here for Swansea during the pandemic when we were needed most. We’ll be here for the city again as we emerge from perhaps the greatest challenge we’ve faced since World War II.”
(Lead image: Swansea Council)