Reprinted from the South Wales Argus
'TANGIBLE progress' is being made on a £100 million scheme aimed at creating 1,500 jobs in Blaenau Gwent and the surrounding area.
The Welsh Government's Tech Valleys programme was announced late in 2017 after the £425 million Circuit of Wales scheme in Ebbw Vale was scrapped earlier the same year - despite already costing the Welsh taxpayer more than £9.3 million.
The scheme - which includes the planned relocation of car maker TVR to a site in Ebbw Vale - is intended to boost employment in the area, and will involve £100 million invested over a 10-year period.
Speaking in the Senedd after Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies asked for an update on the programme on Tuesday, first minister Mark Drakeford said: "His constituents will, I think, be glad to know that there is already progress - tangible progress - that they will be able to see across the range of strands that make up that complex programme.
"He will know of the plan to bring TVR to Ebbw Vale. The deputy minister for economy and transport (Lee Waters) recently met with senior executives.
"The company confirmed real progress in finding new equity investment to support pre-production vehicle development, and the tender process is now complete for refurbishment of the building in Rassau, which is TVR's preferred location for full car production.
"At the same time, planning permissions are now secured for both the Rhyd y Blew and Lime Avenue sites in Ebbw Vale, with building work to commence this year in both cases."
He added: "Bids are now in for the £7 million discovery gateways fund for the Valleys park programme, and decisions on funding are expected imminently.
"And I know that Alun Davies will be especially interested in the new £1.5 million investment that we have agreed in shared apprenticeships in the Tech Valley area - a vote of confidence not simply in the Heads of the Valleys, but in young people in that area, and our determination to make sure that they have a successful future."
Mr Davies welcomed the project as "a real commitment from the Welsh Government to the economy of Ebbw Vale and Blaenau Gwent".
"It also demonstrates a real vote of confidence in the Heads of the Valleys as a place where we can do business," he said.
South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar called for an annual report into the scheme to ensure the promised benefits are realised, to which the first minister replied regular reports on the progress of the programme would be provided in the Assembly.