Emerging from the pandemic, experiencing a cost-of-living crisis whilst continuing to deal with the UK Government’s EU exit deal has been a real challenge for local businesses, writes Eluned Morgan MS.

There's no doubt that the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing challenges. We've seen first-hand the effects of shortages and the difficulty businesses face recruiting for jobs, especially in the retail, hospitality and travel sectors.

There are, however, good reasons to be optimistic - more than £1.6 billion of Welsh Government grant funding has aided businesses to sustain and recover; we’ve seen the emergence of new opportunities and a strong revival of community spirit.

A recent UK Gov poll found that almost two thirds of people will try to support local businesses and buy locally going forward. A recent visit to promote shop local initiatives in Newtown showed me that this was indeed the case.

And it was not only the high street thriving locally - I learned about Gregyngog House's exciting events and plans for expansion, as well as Tirgwynt Windfarm's ‘Carno Community Fund’, which has supported a number of projects and helped save the local primary school from closure.

I also visited Barcud’s latest affordable housing development in Welshpool and enjoyed a tour of the Makefast Ltd’s facility; a Newtown-based industry-leading marine supplier, recently recognised as 'Global Welsh Business of the Year' for its growth in exports.


At the Pryce-Jones Building, it was wonderful to see Newtown’s manufacturing legacy continue as NPTC Colleges collaborated with Fashion-Enter and ASOS to present a special showcase of students' work.

A second Fashion-Enter factory has also recently opened in the area, following the demise of the Laura Ashley plant. With funding support from the Welsh Labour Government, over 75 experienced local machinists have gained employment, enabling the company to supply 30,000 pieces a week, signalling an encouraging future for manufacturing and local garment production.

Having witnessed such exciting innovative and creative developments, I was filled with hope for the future as I stood before the memorial of the legendary Robert Owen and reflected on his entrepreneurial spirit and the area’s rich heritage.

His vision for local businesses and communities to flourish and reach their potential is being realised.