Business must play a key role in shaping the Swansea Bay City Region, according to the former director of the CBI in Wales.
Dr Elizabeth Haywood was chair of the City Regions Task and Finish group created by the Welsh Government in November 2011, which recommended the establishment of two city regions in Wales: the Swansea Bay and Cardiff City Regions.
Dr Haywood will join key figures involved in promoting the city regions for the launch of the latest research into the Swansea Bay City Region at Parc y Scarlets on July 18.
She said: “The idea of the launch meeting is to encourage and interest the private sector and the business sector in the whole idea of the city region.
“A city region won’t work if it doesn’t have business behind it.
“They are ones who will create the jobs and have an understanding of what drives business.
“If you look at successful city regions around the world they have strong business input.
“A lot of it is based around strategy and, in particular, transport strategy and how businesses get their people to work and goods to market.”
Dr Haywood said developing a city region in Swansea Bay could take anytime between 20 to 40 years.
She added: “If you look at some of the more advanced city regions like Stuttgart, that has been gradually built for 40 years.
“This is not short-term stuff. It is a long process of reshaping things they can function along city region lines.”
Swansea West MP Geraint Davies is backing a bid for Swansea Bay to secure the title of UK City of Culture for 2017 and will be holding a reception for well-known figures from the area in Westminster to support the bid in September.
He said: “The point of a city region is so we can pack a bigger punch by working together. This is the first material example of that happening.
“The bid for the city of culture is for the Swansea Bay region. This shows our combined strengths working as a city region to bring multi-million pound investments to Swansea Bay.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Minister for Economy Edwina Hart is expected to make an announcement on a Swansea Bay city region in due course.”
A spokesman for Swansea Council said: “We’ve made great progress towards securing city region status for the entire Swansea Bay area and further details will be announced at the official launch on July 18.”
Swansea Council leader David Phillips was appointed joint chairman of a group looking to implement a city region for Swansea Bay in June.
Mr Phillips will share the role with Steve Penny, who is also chair of Swansea’s Economic Regeneration Partnership and managing partner at Swansea firm JCP Solicitors.
He takes over from out-going joint chair and leader of Neath Port Talbot Council Ali Thomas.
Dr Haywood’s report said that Swansea Bay should become a city region based on the existing levels of traffic in the area, the potential for increased connectivity and its tradition of social and economic interdependence.
It suggested the Cardiff City Region should look to Edinburgh as an example of leadership in a small capital city.
However, while the three local authorities covered by the Swansea Bay region – and other stakeholders in the economy– have been making significant progress, it has been more challenging in terms of getting the 10 local authorities in south east Wales to agree a way forward.
Authority leaders recently attended a meeting at which Mrs Hart made it clear that she wanted to see more progress.
On person present said: “The minister certainly didn’t mince her words in telling them that she wanted to see greater progress. What was interesting is that no leader disagreed, which has to be seen as encouraging.”