POSITIVE signs are emerging as Carmarthenshire continues its recovery from the pandemic and pushes ahead with new ambitions for future development and growth.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet has been updated on the progress of a comprehensive economic recovery plan which outlines 30 targeted actions to help get the county back on its journey of growth and sets out priorities for supporting businesses, people and communities over the next two years.

The update report discussed by councillors reveals the true impact of Covid-19 on the local economy, but also shows the positive signs of a quicker recovery than originally anticipated.

Supported by a recovery group, including key private sector industry leaders, the council said there is real confidence that Carmarthenshire’s economy can recover to become one that is even more productive than before.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The picture we are looking at now is somewhat improved to what we envisaged at the start of our recovery plan, and it is hugely encouraging to see positive signs and great progress already.

“Our economic recovery plan is unashamedly ambitious – we are absolutely determined to do everything we can to get Carmarthenshire back on track and continuing its journey of growth. “From the first update report we can already see that our ambitions are achievable, and that we’re well on our way to being where we want to be.

“We recognise, of course, that we can’t do this on our own – this will take the ambitions and commitment of everyone in Carmarthenshire – from public sector partners and organisations, including the private sector, to local businesses and local people. We really hope that we can all work together to develop Carmarthenshire.

“We have made every effort to ensure that people are with us on this journey, and fundamental to that has been the great vision of the economic recovery group which is made up of local independent business leaders that have ensured our response is in tune with the needs of businesses and communities across Carmarthenshire.”

The economic recovery plan focuses on 11 key themes, with emphasis on maximising opportunities for local businesses and growing the economy.

It sets out the authority’s aims to help businesses replace more than 3,000 jobs lost during the pandemic; safeguarding and replacing up to 10,000 at-risk jobs and creating around 1,700 new jobs – as well as supporting thousands of local businesses.

Key to the plan is supporting the county’s foundational economy and supporting local people to grow skills and talent in targeted areas so that there is a strong and resilient local workforce.

More than 830 jobs have already been created and almost 700 jobs safeguarded.

The council’s economic development team has engaged with well over 2,000 local businesses and provided around 250 people with training support.

One of the key areas of targeted intervention is supporting people to improve digital skills so they have better employment prospects, and more than 200 people have received such training.

Next, the council will focus on supporting 3,000 people into work, providing 2,000 additional homes, maximising the community benefit of development schemes and supporting businesses to take advantage of key grants.

The ambitious targets set out in tailored town centre recovery plans for Ammanford, Llanelli and Carmarthen will also be delivered – each of them highlighting key issues, opportunities and specific interventions for the individual towns.

The council has also promised to deliver 13 major projects, investing more than £140million in developing Carmarthenshire as a place to live, visit, work and do business.

It will look to maximise external funding to bring more prosperity to the county, as it has with the recent Levelling Up and Community Renewal Funding which has brought over £23million of UK Government funding.

Cllr Dole added: “We are determined to take advantage of every opportunity to accelerate Carmarthenshire’s growth and enable the economic success that Carmarthenshire can achieve, and deserves.”

More information about the Carmarthenshire economic recovery plan, including details about major projects, town centre recovery plans, development grants and opportunities for businesses to benefit from the council’s spending, can be found at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales