YOUR AM WRITES: Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay
THE news is often full of doom and gloom when it comes to the health (or illness!) of the Welsh economy.
We are often told of companies closing down, laying off employees, leaving our shores for countries in Eastern Europe or the Far East.
Welsh exports for the third quarter of 2012 are £152 million lower than 12 months earlier, and exports to key markets such as North America have also fallen considerably over this time.
But every cloud has a silver lining and the darkest hour is just before dawn. Times may be tough, but just outside Monmouth there is one company that’s bucking this trend.
Tri-Wall is a medium-sized manufacturing company that produces high-quality packaging for a range of goods, from lemons in supermarkets to engines for the auto trade.
They have a research and development laboratory so they can continually improve their product to suit the changing markets.
Most importantly, though, they employ over 130 people and took the opportunity of using Welsh Assembly grants to improve the skills of their employees so they are now ready to face the challenges of a changing economy.
Tri-Wall has been a staple part of Monmouth’s business landscape for over 50 years and has employed many local people.
The latest chapter in its life was opened last month when it was taken over by Yuji Suzuki, a businessman based in Hong Kong.
Mr Suzuki has big plans to expand the company and hopes to use the Monmouth plant to export to the Indian subcontinent and further afield.
I’ve focused on Tri-Wall because I think this example shows what Welsh-grounded companies are capable of if they have a management prepared to change, diversify and invest in research and development.
But they need support from government and an infrastructure to get their goods out there.
The UK government’s investments in Broadband and electrification of the Great Western railway line will certainly help.
As for Cardiff Airport, that has lost most of its freight traffic. Will the Welsh Government’s surprise decision to purchase the airport help turn this around?
For me the jury is definitely still out on that one.
What we do need to see is a solid partnership between the UK government, the Welsh Assembly and Welsh businesses.
And let’s remember that without our businesses, the vital last part of this equation, nothing else will deliver.