Blaenau Gwent has the highest unemployment rate in Wales, the lowest number of businesses in comparison to the Welsh population and the lowest average rate of pay in the UK. Nearly 10 years ago the steelworks situated at Ebbw Vale closed down and well paid jobs are scarce. However, with investment from developers and the Welsh government, the future looks much brighter for residents of Blaenau Gwent.
The steelworks, known locally as The Works are set to be redeveloped, creating around 2000 jobs. The site will house a wetland park, an education centre for teenagers older than 16, homes and a hospital. While being redeveloped, the site has provided about 1600 jobs, 500 of which were taken up by people within 10 miles of the site. Plans to create a motor racing circuit worth £200 million will provide at least 2500 people with jobs. Ebbw Vale is set to become one of the five enterprise zones created by the Welsh government. Businesses in the area will benefit from reduced business rates and tax breaks to encourage investment and expansion.
Donna Wallbank employs 16 people in her hairdressing salons in Brynmawr and Abertillery, in addition to being chair of Brynmawr Business Forum. The redevelopment of The Works and the plan for a racing track have given people hope for the future of the town, creating jobs and encouraging entrepreneurs in the area. Project director, Richard Crook said:
“What the growth sectors will be in the future we don’t know, but we’re putting in place something that can generate a skilled community that means we’re more resilient in the future.”
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