Column published in Llanelli Herald on March 31st 2017
Too many people in and around the Llanelli constituency have given up on the idea that things will get better. And they distrust promises that it can.
Establishing a new trading relationship with Europe, and the predictions that some 700,000 jobs could be replaced by automation in the coming years, mean that we face fierce challenges. But just because it is going to be hard, it doesn’t mean that we cannot re-establish Llanelli as a furnace of innovation and industry in Wales.
For too long our strengths have been overlooked and as a community we’ve given up hope that things can be better. We must be more ambitious, and we must try new things.
In unpredictable times we need to move away from conventional approaches and focus on innovative approaches which adapt easily to changed circumstances. That means we should build fewer roads and business parks and be willing to experiment.
We also need more emphasis on the day-to-day economic activity that dominates local economies (the so called ‘Foundational Economy’ such as local energy and food production, housing, and social care), and areas of innovation where Llanelli can demonstrate a competitive advantage. We still have a strong manufacturing base in the area and there’s much we can do to make sure it is at the forefront of innovation.
I want to engage as many people as possible in this debate. I want to hear your ideas on what we can do to bring jobs to our area. Alongside public events, workshops, school visits, and doorstep chats, I’ve launched a ‘crowdsourcing’ website is designed to enable you to pitch your own ideas, to build and comment on the suggestions of others, and to vote up (or vote down) your favourites.
No idea is too big or too small – other people can chip in and small ideas can grow – if you have 10 seconds or 10 minutes please do get involved by going onto my site leeforllanelli.wales/thinkbig
I want us to be ambitious for our community, and to think big about how we can generate jobs and opportunities for the future.