This week I had the privilege of visiting the Royal Welsh Show, the pinnacle event in the British agricultural calendar.
The Royal Welsh Show attracts almost a quarter of a million visitors each year and these visitors spend almost £10 million over the course of the four days, with secondary sales being estimated to be over £6 million.
Events such as the Royal Welsh offer local businesses of all sizes the chance to promote and sell their products. Every year I am always proud to see the huge diversity of Welsh products on offer, from local food and drink products, agricultural goods, farm machinery, household products and so much more.
In the Monmouth constituency we can boast some of the best agricultural shows in Wales. I’m pleased that the Monmouth show is back this year on Sunday 20th August. It was the biggest one-day show in Wales it attracts thousands of visitors, both young and old to the wonderful Wye Valley as does the local Chepstow show on Sat 12th August. I also look forward to the fantastic Usk Show on the 9th Sept, another brilliant opportunity to experience much of what the wonderful county of Monmouthshire and the wider region has to offer.
These important events provide a crucial shop window for many small businesses, representing the overwhelming majority of businesses in Wales especially in rural communities. Rural areas in Wales also have the highest number of people who are employed by micro businesses.
However, small and medium sized communities throughout Wales have been under immense pressure and continue to face barriers such as the lack of both digital and transport connectivity to the rest of the country. This lack of connectivity affects both businesses and employees alike, holding them back from reaching their true potential.
When businesses have better connectivity they have more access to employees, resources and support enabling them to grow and benefit their local communities.
If the Welsh Government is serious about supporting rural communities across Wales we must see an increase in the investment into vital infrastructure projects, including poor public transport connectivity. We need to see better connectivity, increased investment in infrastructure and more opportunities for businesses to grow.