Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
Once again, I am delighted to lend my support to the Fast Growth 50 Awards and to mark the important contribution that Welsh businesses are making to our economy.
It is hard to believe that a year has passed since we last gathered to celebrate the achievements of the impressive entrepreneurs that are helping to spread economic growth to all parts of Wales.
Since its inception in 1999, the firms that have appeared on the Fast Growth 50 lists have created over 34,000 jobs and generate an estimated 18 billion of additional turnover annually, much of which is spent in their local area.
We now have 31,000 more SMEs and 93,000 more people in work in Wales than in 2010. We also have the fastest growing economy per head outside London since 2010. All clear demonstrations of why we should hold great hopes for Wales future prosperity.
Any so many of the companies that have decorated the FG50 rosters over the years are now delivering services and exporting their products right around the globe.
Last years winner, Caerphilly based aviation engineering firm AerFin, was named the UKs fastest growing exporter with overseas sales growing at an average annual rate of 664% over the last two years. This years crop of 50 must have the same aspirations to achieve the same success and the UK Government is standing ready to back them all the way.
There has never been a better time for our dynamic and innovative businesses to export their goods and services abroad.
And at a time when the UK is negotiating a new partnership with the European Union, I have been consistently impressed by the manner in which Welsh businesses have been able to react, innovate and grow at home and overseas.
My overriding mission throughout the EU exit process is to demonstrate that Wales is the same outward-looking, globally-minded, big-thinking country we have always been.
That was my message to business leaders in both Japan and Qatar during my recent trade missions. I want Wales and the wider UK to be the best place in the world to do business.
Europe is a key market for Wales, but non-EU countries including Singapore, Qatar and Japan all feature in the top 10 destination for Welsh exports.
I have also written to 26,000 businesses across Wales that have been identified as potential exporters and included a copy of the Wales Export Guide. Its a document that sets out the full range of support available to Welsh businesses from the UK Government and contains inspiring stories of companies based in Wales that are successfully exporting.
Closer to home, the UK Government is also putting in place the optimum conditions for growth.
From rail electrification, state of the art trains to funding for superfast broadband, we are working hard to improve Wales infrastructure. Our decision to reduce the Severn tolls - before abolishing them altogether - will also cut costs for businesses, for commuters and tourists alike - helping boost jobs and trade in Wales and across the South-West.
The UK Government is also set to publish its modern industrial strategy, designed to build on our strengths in fields such as aerospace, technology and life sciences and ensure our people benefit from the creation of a highly skilled and strong workforce.
But Government cannot act alone. We need you to play your role. We need you to invest in your companies and seek out new opportunities for your businesses at home and around the world.
And the UK Government will back you all the way.
My congratulations go to all of this years Fast Growth 50 winners. Your awards are richly deserved.
Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP
Secretary of State for Wales