Over recent years Cardiff has succeeded in attracting and retaining talented people.
So much so that it has one of the most highly skilled populations and is projected to grow faster than any of the major British cities.
This is because Cardiff is a great place to live. Indeed, Cardiff was named as the ’Best City for Young People in Britain.’
This success is in part down to the fantastic cultural and leisure infrastructure that has been developed over the last 20 years, including:
- The creation of Cardiff Bay;
- St David’s shopping centre and the pedestrianisation of the city centre;
- The Wales Millennium Centre;
- The Millennium, SWALEC and Cardiff City Stadia; and
- The International White Water Rafting Centre.
To this list we will soon be able to add a new Olympic standard, 3000 seat, ‘twin-pad’ Ice Arena capable of hosting international sporting events.
To celebrate the commencement of building works on the £16m Ice Arena project an unusual ice-cutting ceremony took place this week.
The Ice Arena is on track to open next summer, in time for the 2015 Ice Hockey season. The arena is part of a £450m investment into the International Sports Village which also includes the construction of over 800 new houses – with nearly 20% of these being affordable homes – which are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
I was also hugely impressed by the adjacent Flow-Rider and White Water Rafting centre. They’re unique facilities for a city to possess, and I’d recommend a visit to those of you who haven’t yet visited them! The Flow-Rider involves surfing on jets of water on a bodyboard, with users able to progress to stand-up riding as their confidence and skills develop. The centre also has a great café with a balcony and views over all the action on the white-water course.
During my visit, I also heard about plans for a new high-rope facility over the white water course, providing visitors and residents in Cardiff with an even greater range of adventure sports on the Cardiff Bay waterfront. For more information on the facilities and courses available at the Flow-Rider and Rafting centre, visit www.ciww.com.
For me both these facilities – indeed the whole Sport Village development – have really helped to enhance Cardiff’s reputation as a world-class sporting and leisure destination.
Cardiff, as our capital city, has a leading role to play in lifting Wales out of the recent recession and onto a more sustained path of economic recovery.
I was therefore very pleased to recently speak at the launch of Cardiff’s new Business Council. This is a new business-led organisation set up to grow Cardiff’s private sector by marketing and promoting the City of Cardiff and the wider Cardiff Capital Region as a world-class destination for investment, trade and tourism.
In developing a presence in New York, Beijing and Brussels, and through a programme of events in London and internationally, the Cardiff Business Council will be at the forefront of this effort.
The Business Council will also act as the primary interface between the City of Cardiff and the business community.
If Cardiff is to become Europe’s most liveable capital city it needs to be a great place to work and to do business.