Last week we published an exclusive economic report on the Newport region compiled by NatWest to tie in with our City of Service campaign.

It revealed that the economy of the region grew at an average annual rate of 2.2 per cent per year between 2014 and 2017, with growth accelerating to 2.4 per cent in 2017, which was faster than UK average economic growth of 2.1 per cent recorded over the past three years and ahead of growth of 1.9 per cent chalked-up across Wales over the same period.

The over all size of the local economy – the value of all economic activity taking place in the area – was a striking £10.8bn in 2017 (the latest figures available).

This week, we hear from businesses based in the Newport region to hear what they thought of the report's findings:

South Wales Argus:

Robin Hall, managing director, Kymin Financial Services, Newport

It is great to hear that the city is growing faster than the rest of Wales as well as the UK average.


Newport has certainly changed for the better over the last five years and will continue to do so over the next five years.

Just look at the riverfront from Town Bridge to George Street. It was fantastic to come from a meeting last week to see so many people enjoying an evening stroll and jogging along the riverfront.

New developments such as Friars Walk have helped re-invigorate the city centre and the imminent redevelopment of Newport Market and upgrade of Market Arcade will boost the High Street area.

The new Newport Central Hotel in High Street has already opened and it fantastic to see such a great building back in use.

The Mercure four-star Chartist Hotel which is opening early next year shows there is a demand for quality hotels in the area and this will only increase with the opening of the International Convention Centre Wales at the Celtic Manor in the autumn.

There are some great independent businesses in Newport and with the National Software Academy and Alacrity Foundation based in the heart of the city let’s hope that their students of today are the new independent businesses of tomorrow.

Kymin is a service business and we strive to provide the best service that we can to our clients.

It is interesting to read that the service sector already provides £270m to the local economy and we can boost this all-important sector to the UK average it will provide an additional £100m to the local economy.

Newport is a great place to live and to run a business, if each of us makes that extra little effort is can be an even greater place.

South Wales Argus:

James Crawford, chief executive of Johnsey Estates, which owns Mamhilad Park Estate, Pontypool

The statistics highlighted in this report are highly encouraging and shine a well-deserved positive light on the city of Newport and surrounding region. It is always great to see an increase in jobs and the number of start-ups and active enterprises.

It is evident that this growth is a fine example of what is happening in the Gwent region. The growth of the restaurant and hotel sector embodies the regeneration of the Newport area, and is perhaps the most visible to the public eye.

As a business operating in this region, this healthy economy is obviously reassuring and exciting.

When ensuring the city of Newport and the region continues to progress and prosper the City of Service campaign is vitally important, it is key to remember that business is about people and providing an impeccable service to your customers is paramount to success and long-term loyalty.

South Wales Argus:

Jennie Howells, head of property, Garrison Barclay Estates, which is redeveloping Chartist Tower and the former Royal Mail building in the city centre

With two developments under way in Newport, we certainly feel the city is on the up.

We have real confidence in Newport and its future.

With the ICC Wales opening later this year, it’s a really exciting time. We are proud to be playing our part by breathing life into two fantastic city centre buildings.

We are positive that our developments will help give the city centre a much brighter future as part of the wider regeneration plans.

South Wales Argus:

David Harlow, chief executive of PH Innovate, which owns Three Castles Cover and also Quote Detective, Quote the Market and NV Technology, all based at Mamhilad Park Estate, Pontypool

We find the Newport area an excellent place to do business mainly due to the high number of available staff.

We prefer to recruit from school leavers and train them in our ways and our culture - this applies to all of our jobs whether IT programmers, contact centre staff, data analyslsts or head office functions. Many other businesses seem to want graduates whereas we see huge potential in the output from Torfaen area schools.

I am encouraged by the growth vis a vis the rest of Wales and I can only see growth speeding up with bridge tolls recently having been scrapped, I can see entrepreneurs from Bristol using the lower cost base of the Newport region to start their businesses.

In terms of what should be done, I'd suggest that Welsh government pushed through a lower tax zone in Newport region so that start ups could pay less business rates.

Red tape and high costs are the biggest challenges new businesses face - rather than offer grants as a 'lender of last resort' I'd prefer to see low tax zones.

It's just another way of stimulating business growth, it's not sexy and lacks the headlines so beloved of politicians but would incentivise far larger numbers of businesses.

It sometimes appears that governments want to push the economy down a tech only route but the figures show just how strong the local manufacturing pedigree is - why not encourage young entrepreneurs in engineering to finding better ways to build things?

South Wales Argus:

Kevin Ward, manager, Newport Now Business Improvement District

The report obviously covers an economic area considerably wider than the city centre of Newport, in which the BID operates.

However, it does show how reality and perception can be radically different and is therefore a welcome antidote to some of the doom and gloom you'll find on social media in particular.

It is clear that traditional city and town centres, including Newport, are going through tough times as the retail sector undergoes radical changes.

The message that BIDs across the UK is sending out on behalf of their members is that people have a clear choice when it comes to the 'high street' - use it or lose it.

In Newport, the BID continues to fund and promote events that bring more people into the city centre, as well as providing many other benefits of which our members can take advantage.

We also continue to support proposals to reinvigorate the city centre via a new mix of retail, office space, hotels and residential accommodation; and to lobby our partners in the council and police when necessary on issues such as anti-social behaviour, rough sleeping and parking.