Think of Wrexham (Wrecsam), and you probably think of Wrexham FC – a story of soccer success, rewarding a smart investment by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
But success in Wrexham – and the wider North Wales region – goes far beyond the soccer field. US businesses have long recognised the region’s potential as a hotbed for growth, and now its appeal is even greater.
Wrexham boasts the biggest industrial estate in Europe, and with neighbouring Deeside (Glannau Dyfrdwy), it is North Wales’s most dynamic growth area. But this is a boom time across all of North Wales, with homegrown ventures thriving globally and investors moving in to benefit from the region’s expertise, support networks and natural resources.
With investments in fintech, renewable energy, cybersecurity, life sciences, compound semiconductors and high value manufacturing, North Wales is going places, both on and off the pitch.
The UK and Welsh Governments are both committed to ensuring this success continues. Each is contributing £120 million to unlock opportunities and build on existing strengths through a regional partnership called Ambition North Wales. It’s part of The North Wales Growth Deal which will bring over £1 billion of investment and 4,200 new jobs by 2036.
Two outstanding universities in Bangor and Wrexham provide R&D opportunities, world-class facilities, and highly qualified talent. In addition, Broughton (Brychdyn) near Wrexham is home to AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) Cymru. Funded with £20 million from the Welsh Government and managed by the University of Sheffield, it helps companies overcome manufacturing problems, improve productivity, increase competitiveness, develop new products and processes and train new talent and skills.
An hour or so to the west, on the beautiful island of Anglesey (Ynys Môn), M-Sparc (Menai Science Park) draws on the expertise of Bangor University to provide business support, an energising work environment and top-class R&D facilities.
With its mountains, lakes, rugged coastline, and inviting beaches, North Wales offers an exceptional quality of life – a unique place to live, to work, and to thrive.
In March 2023, the Welsh and UK Government’s jointly announced that two Freeport bids would move to the next stage, one being the Porthladd Rhydd Ynys Mon / Anglesey Freeport in North Wales. The Freeport will be based around the port of Holyhead, Anglesey Prosperity Zone, Rhosgoch and M-Sparc to develop the Energy Island Programme by focusing on marine energy technology testing on the seabed (tidal and wind).
Just ask the likes of Kellogg’s, whose factory in Wrexham has operated since 1978 and is now the world’s largest producer of Special K. In fact, Kellogg’s iconic rooster emblem has a Welsh connection too: in the 1950s, William Kellogg’s Welsh friend, the harpist Nansi Richards pointed out ‘rooster’ in Welsh is 'ceiliog', which sounds like Kellogg, and so it has been retained ever since.
Toyota is a very different kind of global brand – but equally at home in North Wales. The Japanese automotive giant’s engine plant in Deeside produces around 1,300 engines every day – that’s one every 44 seconds.
When it first moved into North Wales 30 years ago, it had 70 employees here. Now more than 600 highly trained staff are based at the state-of-the-art centre, which is renowned for promoting energy-efficient manufacturing, sustainable energy and biodiversity, and was the first overseas Toyota plant to produce hybrid electric engines.
Last year, the Welsh Government contributed £375,000 from its Economic Futures Fund to support new £1.6m energy-efficient aluminium furnaces to further reduce the site’s environmental impact and support Toyota’s ambition of being net zero in carbon emissions from manufacturing by 2040.
Managing Director, Richard Kenworthy, said: “We very much appreciate the proactive support from Welsh Government in helping us installing this equipment and meeting our joint goals of carbon reduction.”
Another success story is Wrexham-based Moneypenny, whose headquarters, opened by King Charles III, include an extraordinary £15 million building, with a meeting room in a treehouse, a sun terrace, a towering atrium with stadium seating, a village-style pub, and surrounded by seven acres of landscaped grounds, with views of the countryside.
It’s enough to rival Google's and Apple's famously futuristic HQs, and it reflects the growth of the world's leading provider of telephone answering, outsourced switchboard, Live Chat and customer contact solutions.
Moneypenny now has more than 1,000 staff in the UK and US and has acquired award-winning American outsourced communication companies VoiceNation, Ninja Number and Alphapage.
As a lifelong resident of nearby Mold (Yr Wyddgrug), group CEO Joanna Swash appreciates the quality of life the area gives employees, spending her spare time walking and enjoying the countryside with her family.
"The people in Wales are fantastic," she says. "There is an excellent pool of talent on our doorstep, and our people are our biggest asset."
Innovative businesses of all shapes and sizes are now thriving in North Wales. Companies like Airbus, part of a dynamic aerospace cluster with strong US links, based here for 80 years and employing more than 6,000; Convatec, helping millions of people living with chronic diseases; Net World Sports, producing top-quality sports, fitness, and leisure products; renewable energy experts, RWE; and fast-growing fintech company, Sorodo.
It’s no wonder overseas companies are increasingly moving here. In the last six months, the island of Anglesey has become home to its first two US investors: Westinghouse Environmental Services is opening a decommissioning hub at M-Sparc, initially with 15 jobs and plans for expansion. And Glanbia Cheese, Europe's largest manufacturer of mozzarella, is now also US-owned.
As talent, drive, and the right investment helps Wrexham FC to reach new heights, the same is true of North Wales. Dynamic and supportive networks of thriving, innovative businesses are reaping the benefits of all that the region has to offer.