April 15, 2024

Wrexham’s city leaders must be on the ball to secure unprecedented economic growth

The global celebrity status of Wrexham AFC has given the city a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure unprecedented economic growth, according to a top business expert

Professor Dylan Jones-Evans said the club’s superstar owners, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, have been like a breath of fresh air in promoting the city but that local leaders must now invest significantly in home-grown businesses and incoming innovators to make the most of Wrexham’s  higher profile.

The pair joined forces to buy Wrexham, paying £2 million for it back in 2021 and have managed to turn the club’s fortunes around, achieving promotion last year and now pushing for promotion this season from League Two to League One.

Newly-released figures released reveal that during their short period at the helm the club’s worth has rocketed to a current value of around £9 million.

Professor Jones-Evans will be a keynote speaker at a breakfast meeting of Wrexham Business Professionals at the city’s Maesgwyn Hall on Friday, April 19.

The group is made up of successful businesses and skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity and shine a light on the enterprise and expertise that exists in the region.

The other guest speaker is Ken Skates, the MS for Clwyd South, who has returned to the Welsh Government as  Cabinet Secretary for North Wales and Transport.

Professor Jones-Evans is urging local council and government leaders to grasp the opportunities presented to the region and Wales as a whole by Wrexham’s new international profile.

He said: “It is such a beautiful story but it did not happen by itself. I congratulate everyone in Wrexham who embraced the chance to bring these two giants of Hollywood into the fold. They can be proud that when the offer came they took it and they have not looked back.

“Wrexham has taken these two shining stars to their hearts and they in turn have taken Wrexham and Wales into their own hearts breathing new life not just into Wrexham Football Club but into the whole community.

“Their enthusiasm and the club’s subsequent success story has certainly put Wrexham in the global spotlight.

The pair’s initial investment has been further enhanced following the success of the FX TV series Welcome to Wrexham which has followed the club’s fortunes since the takeover. It received critical acclaim and won two Critics’ Choice Television Awards and five Primetime Emmy Awards. A third series will premier next month.

It all coincided with Wrexham achieving long-desired city status in May 2022 as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee festivities, making Wrexham the newest city in Wales.

Professor Jones-Evans said the stars are now potentially aligned to stimulate a period of unprecedented growth for Wrexham – but it all depends on what local leaders do next.

He said: “With the world watching there are definitely new opportunities to be had for a rejuvenated Wrexham and its surrounding region. But they must still be worked for as prosperity does not just happen without considered planning for the future. Local leaders must be prepared to invest significantly in home-grown entrepreneurs and incoming innovators who are considering setting up in the region.”

Professor Jones-Evans, a prolific author on entrepreneurship who founded the Wales Fast Growth 50 and the UK Start-Up Awards, has vast experience of the power of co-working and collaborating with others to create an environment in which young businesses can prosper.

He said: “It is crucial to get behind start-ups and scale-up businesses as these are the catalysts for growth. I’m surprised that with its long history as a manufacturing powerhouse, Wrexham businesses have not received more support from local and national government to ensure its future as one of the UK’s centres of excellence for the sector.

“Even now with so much going on and its newly achieved city status, there remains a sharp lack of focus on building the skills-set to attract and grow new businesses. I would urge local leaders to get behind the founders of those entrepreneurial companies that can create jobs and prosperity in the local economy, and certainly to consult them more about their needs. There are great opportunities to be grasped here if everyone works together.”

He cited the example of expanding local company Jones Village Bakery, currently celebrating its 90th anniversary, after starting as a small family concern in Coedpoeth. It is now a key local employer which distributes its range of products across the UK and exports overseas.

Professor Jones-Evans said it is a gold-standard role model for other businesses: “Village Bakery has been one of the outstanding Fast Growth 50 firms in Wales over the last 25 years and its managing director Robin Jones and his team have done an amazing job, building their brand to international level. Others can follow their lead in successfully growing their businesses but it’s crucial that all levels of government gets behind them to ensure that they are given the full support to maximise their potential for the local area and beyond”.

Ian Edwards, a leading member of Wrexham Business Professionals, who said: “We’re hugely grateful that two big hitters like Dylan Jones-Evans and Ken Skates have agreed to share their invaluable insights with our group and it promises to be fascinating meeting.”

It was a view shared by fellow member Louise Harper who added: “This is a very exciting time to live and work and do business in Wrexham and we must do everything in our power to take advantage of the opportunity to generate economic growth and prosperity for our community.”

For more information about Wrexham Business Professionals meetings, events and campaigns go to wrexhambusinessprofessionals.com, email  [email protected] or ring 01978 752500.