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First Minister of Wales Visits Philadelphia

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On Thursday, February 26, 2015 the leader of Wales – The Right Honorable Carwyn Jones, AM, spent the day in the Greater Philadelphia region. This was the First Minister’s inaugural trip to the area, and his schedule included meetings with local companies and government officials. Discussions focused on cementing business ties and the relationship between Wales and Pennsylvania. The BABC welcomed the First Minister with a luncheon in his honor hosted by BABC Club Level member, Duane Morris LLP. The exclusive meeting was by invitation only and included more than 25 executives from leading businesses such as: Aberdeen Asset Management, Comcast, Duane Morris, HSBC Bank, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, TD Bank, and Virgin Atlantic Airways, to name several of those present. Michael Pedrick, BABC Secretary and Membership Co-Chair introduced the First Minister.

Carwyn Jones was appointed by Her Majesty the Queen in December 2009. He was educated at Brynteg Comprehensive School, Bridgend, University of Wales, Aberystwyth and Inns of Court School of Law, London. Prior to his election, he was a barrister in chambers in Swansea specializing in Criminal, Family and Personal Injury Law and a professional tutor at Cardiff University Law School. He has been a Labour Party member since 1987 and played an active role in the ‘Yes for Wales’ campaign. His interests include sport, reading and travel, and he is a fluent Welsh speaker.

Immediately following interviews and photographs with reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer and KYW and CBS3, the First Minister opened his Chamber of Commerce discourse with a history lesson, and a very simple question. He asked, “What is Wales?” and proceeded to explain Wales is one of four nations within the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The First Minister mentioned Wales shares the same legal system as England, Scotland and Northern Ireland do not. He described Wales’ long tradition of engineering and manufacturing excellence, and established capabilities in IT, financial and professional services, and technologies in sectors ranging from life sciences to sustainable and low-carbon technologies. Wales’ highly skilled, loyal and competitive workforce, driven by research and thousands of graduates from Welsh leading universities positions it as a favorable destination for international business. Superior industry facilities and global partners, offering scientific innovations permeate the Welsh marketplace. The First Minister spoke about the Government’s pro-business stance, and its keen interest in listening to businesses investing in the region to ensure government policy and strategy to enable success. A number of Pennsylvania based companies have invested in Wales and several Welsh businesses have interests in Pennsylvania enterprises. Leading universities also have active exchange programs.

The Welsh have made a substantial contribution to Pennsylvania from colonial days to the present and Pennsylvania remains the state with the highest number of Welsh American residents. Welsh settlement in began in 1681 when William Penn sold an area of land known as the Welsh Tract to Welsh Quakers. Philadelphia has the oldest Welsh Society in North America.

Present day connections include 17 companies with Pennsylvania/Welsh business ties, one of which is Triumph, headquartered in Berwyn. Triumph is a global leader in aerospace systems. It recently secured a £40million annual contract to supply Airbus with components for aircraft landing gear. The deal, secured with Welsh Government support, will see work move from China to North Wales, and will initially create over 60 new, highly skilled jobs at the company’s plant in Deeside, doubling the workforce in North Wales, UK to more than 100. As a result of this deal, Deeside will become the sole supplier of hydraulic actuation systems used in the landing gear for all Airbus A380 and A320 aircraft. The £1.8m investment in new facilities and equipment is backed by £392,000 business finance from the Welsh Government.

Wales’ proximity to UK hubs and the European marketplace, as well as a destination in itself, provides easy access to key industry centers in the UK and abroad via world class infrastructure – roads, rail and air links to England, Europe and the rest of the globe. Wales has an exceptional range and variety of business premises, which are among the best in Europe and are competitively priced. The Welsh government offers financing companies locating projects in Wales from another country with up to 45 percent of a company’s costs, for capital expenditure and associated revenue being open to non-repayable finance.

The Welsh Government promotes and protects the interests of Wales within the UK, Europe and internationally. Working with interests and partners in Wales and beyond the Office undertakes activities to raise the profile and influence of Wales as a place to live, visit, study and do business. While the First Minister has responsibility for the management of relationships between Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom, Europe and internationally, all Ministers have a role in delivering the Government’s international responsibilities and ambitions. Wales has 14 representations located in seven countries: Belgium, China, India, Ireland, Japan, United Arab Emirates and the USA. The offices are multi-functional. They are responsible for trade and investment, government relations, tourism, culture and education. The primary focus of the Brussels office is on EU matters. US Offices are located in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago and San Francisco.

Following the First Minister’s presentation to the BABC the meeting was open for dialogue. Attendees were encouraged to ask questions. Inquiries ranged from curiosities about the Welsh language to sector specific industries most prevalent in Wales, business infrastructure, banking, tourism, the health of the Welsh economy, and if Wales might pursue something similar to the Scottish referendum.

The BABC thanks Duane Morris LLP for hosting the luncheon and The Welsh Government for working with us to bring The First Minister to Philadelphia.

Click here to view photos.

Click the links below to read press coverage of The First Minister’s visit to the Greater Philadelphia region.

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com

CBS Local

Wales Online

Herald Online

The Business Journals

WiredGov

The Welsh Horizon

Wales Online – Triumph Article

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The BABCPHL recognizes our Club Level Members:

  • Almac
  • American Airlines
  • Cigna
  • Cigna
  • Deloitte
  • Duane Morris
  • EisnerAmper LLP
  • Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
  • Fisher Phillips
  • HSBC
  • International Products Corporation
  • Johnson, Kendall & Johnson, Inc.
  • KPMG
  • Morgan Lewis
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Welsh Government