Over 80 business on Anglesey have received more than half a million pounds between them, through a fund established to create jobs and to support the growth of the Welsh language in its strongholds.
Thanks to the Arfor Fund, jointly managed by Menter Môn and the Isle of Anglesey County Council, businesses across the island have received support to develop and grow as well as to protect jobs. Arfor was created as a pilot scheme to encourage the use of the Welsh language by promoting economic growth and creating work in areas where the language is at its strongest.
There were two funding streams as part of this part of scheme – one with a focus on developing entrepreneurship and innovation, the other on making the Welsh language more visible within businesses.
One business which benefited from Arfor was television company, Rondo Media. The support enabled them to continue operating safely during Covid19 restrictions and to protect jobs associated with their production on Anglesey, including the popular TV soap opera Rownd a Rownd.
Bedwyr Rees, Senior Producer with Rondo, said: “This funding has made a huge difference to us as a business. It has meant we have been able to put the infrastructure in place to continue producing Rownd a Rownd on Anglesey throughout the pandemic. Thanks to the grant we have been able to safeguard jobs in the area and we now look forward to developing our presence further on the island and to having a positive impact on opportunities and employment within the local economy.”
Each business that received Arfor support through the partnership between the Council and Menter Môn, has safeguarded jobs, with over 60 companies creating new employment. Many of the businesses have also supported staff to gain Welsh language qualifications.
Councillor Carwyn Elias Jones is portfolio holder for Economic Development, Leisure and Tourism at the Isle of Anglesey County Council, he said: “Arfor has played an important role in increasing the number of businesses making use of the Welsh language, our hope is it will also create opportunities that encourage young people to stay in the area or attract them back home to live and work. The work Rondo are doing, is without doubt putting Anglesey on the map, and is an example of a business which has used the grant to innovate and to develop new markets.”
Sioned Morgan Thomas is the Projects Director at Menter Môn, she said: “It’s great to hear about the experiences of companies such as Rondo, that have benefited from this unique fund. Creating local opportunities with an emphasis on the Welsh language is a core part of our vision here at Menter Môn – so we were extremely pleased to be able to offer support through this scheme on the island. In a period, that’s been challenging for companies across all sectors, it was good to be able to provide funding in a way that will have a positive impact long term.”
Arfor is a £2 million programme launched in 2019 by the Welsh Government. The aim was to trial innovative methods of promoting entrepreneurship, business growth and the Welsh language in Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Anglesey. The money was available in the four areas to facilitate new ways of developing the economy and promoting the use of the Welsh language. The original fund has now closed, and Arfor 2 is currently being developed by Welsh Government.