An opportunity to create a “more robust” economy for Gwynedd and north Wales “must be grabbed with both hands,” the council’s economy chief has stressed.

With Gwynedd offering its approval to the finishing touches of the North Wales Growth Bid, Cllr Gareth Thomas noted the benefits of the billion pound programme which covers all six north Wales authorities.

The growth deal, consisting of five programmes to be delivered over the next 15 years, is seeking to inject up to £1.1bn to the North Wales economy and create between 3,400 and 4,200 new jobs by 2036.

Gwynedd is the host authority, responsible for much of the day to day administration but requires ratification from all six councils.

But with the economy having taken a battering during the Covid-19 pandemic, Cllr Gareth Thomas told Tuesday’s meeting of Gwynedd Council’s cabinet that the project represented a “truly excellent opportunity” for the region.

“This gives us the opportunity to build a much more robust economy in north Wales than what we have at present,” said Cllr Thomas.

“With talk of high value jobs we need to bare in mind during the pandemic how fragile the region’s economy is in terms of tourism and hospitality, as important as they are, which have been severely hit, while also considering Brexit’s likely impact on agriculture.

“So the opportunity to attract well paid jobs where we can keep our young people living and working in our Welsh speaking communities helps the language and we need to grab this opportunity with both hands and to make it work.

“Its a truly excellent opportunity over the coming years.”

Among the proposed projects highlighted by council chiefs as of particular benefit to Gwynedd are:

Improved digital connectivity

Creating a distinctive and “world-class hub” at Glynllifon, offering a range of facilities and services to strengthen and enhance the growing the food and drink sector

A low carbon centre of excellence at Bangor University

£20m investment at Trawsfynydd for an innovative low carbon development

Providing industrial floor space to meet known demand for units at Bangor’s Parc Bryn Cegin to house some of the supply chain for developments in north west Wales.

The six local authorities as well as as well as Coleg Cambria, Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Wrexham Glyndwr and Bangor Universities and the  are all part of the deal, securing £240m of Welsh and UK Government funding.

The report concluded, “Covid-19 has had an immense economic impact on north Wales as in other parts of the UK and globally.

“The Growth Deal is designed to address structural, long-term barriers to economic growth. However, the board is fully aware that in the short-term a range of actions will be needed to facilitate recovery and alignment between those short term measures and the growth deal is key.

“The Growth Deal on its own cannot address all the challenges facing the North Wales economy, particularly in light of Covid-19.

“However, such a significant injection of capital investment into the north Wales economy through the growth deal will be a boost to the construction and related sectors at a time when there is likely to be spare capacity in the economy.”