ECONOMY Minister, Vaughan Gething visited Boulders Climbing Centre in Cardiff to see how the centre has used Welsh Government Economic Resilience Funding to find new ways of operating – and keeping visitors safe.
Throughout the pandemic, the Welsh Government has made £2.5 billion available to support businesses across Wales, helping to protect in excess of 160,000 jobs that might otherwise have been lost. Boulders Climbing Centre received funding from the third phase of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund which was specifically aimed at securing jobs and helping businesses develop.
The funding has enabled Boulders to expand its offering to allow more customers to safely use its facility – whilst social distancing. Boulders re-configured the layout of the facility to help make it compliant with the Covid regulations, invested in a new digital platform to improve efficiency, regulate numbers and speed up the arrival and registration process. They also invested in new digital training boards to make an underused part of the centre more accessible.
Ollie Noakes from Boulders, said: “We had to acknowledge that the way we all live, work and play has changed and we needed to refresh our business to ensure we can survive despite restrictions and in a new post COVID world. Not only has the funding allowed us to operate at a sustainable level during restrictions, it enabled us to take a hard look at the parts of the business that were not contributing and take appropriate steps to ensure we are ready to thrive as we adapt to a new normal. I’m very proud of the work my team have done during time Boulders was closed and it is great to be back, and expanding our team as a result.”
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: “The aim of the third phase of our Economic Resilience Fund was to help businesses develop and plan for the future and adopt new ways of working. Coronavirus has changed everyone’s lives – and this funding enabled businesses to adapt, build resilience and to operate in a covid safe way. I’m delighted to see how Boulders have used this funding to enable them to trade safely and in line with covid restrictions, and I wish them well for the future.”
As attractions and hospitality businesses look forward to a busy summer, many other businesses have used support from the Economic Resilience Fund to future-proof their businesses.
Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire has teamed up with Rhyl-based family business, Formula K with in an investment in 18 new, electric-powered karts for its family-friendly Follystone racetrack. The order, which was placed during the height of the pandemic, helped Formula K to bring back staff who had been furloughed since the shutdown of the tourism and leisure market. The new greener go karts will reduce carbon emissions at Folly Farm.
The Coach Brewing Co in Bridgend has developed a mobile bar element to the business which enabled them to reach customers who were shielding or isolating during lockdown.
Head Brewer & Director Lloyd Thomas described how helpful the funding was in speeding up the process of diversifying and getting the wheels in motion. “The idea behind our van concept was initially targeted towards weddings and sports events.” said Lloyd, “However, during lockdown we found that lots of people were getting sick of cans and bottled beer at home and were really missing draught beer at the pub. The funding from Welsh Government helped us create our ‘ice cream van for grown ups’, with 5 ice cold keg lines and 2 cask hand pull engines. When people couldn’t get to the pub, we took the pub to them!
“Moving forward, the beer van will now revert back to the original plan, but funding has helped ‘future proof’ the brewery’s route to market and also let to the creation of 5 new jobs for under 25 year olds.”
Under the third phase of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund businesses employing new staff under 25 years old were also eligible for an additional funding in order to help ensure that young people are not left behind as a result of the pandemic.