A DENBIGH-bred entrepreneur believes North Wales could be a big player in the internet world.
Businessman Lawrence Jones, 45, is pursuing a number of ‘significant opportunities’ that could provide a massive boost to the North Wales economy.
Mr Jones, CEO of UKFast, a web hosting company worth £150 million, said: “When I was 16 I left Denbigh for the bright lights of Manchester.
“I brushed up in a music shop being a general ‘dogs body’, I soon realised I wasn’t going to make any money.”
Mr Jones went onto setting up his own events business called The Music Design Company with 300 musicians working for him which he later sold to Granada.
In 1999 Mr Jones found his next business, UKFast, a web hosting service which employs 200 people and turns over more than £20 million.
In the last two years, UKFast has invested around £20 million in the design and build of 30,000 sq ft of data centre space in Manchester and now Mr Jones hopes to find suitable sites to continue this expansion in North Wales where land is cheaper.
Mr Jones, who was in the St Asaph Cathedral Choir, said: “I pay a lot of tax but I don’t feel it is evenly distributed. London gets more than its fair share. Somebody has to redress that balance.
“I want to have an impact on my doorstep in North Wales.”
Mr Jones, who lives in Castell Cidwm, Llyn Cwellyn, at the foot of Snowdonia, is interested in bringing data centres to the area as well as using hydro-electric power to reduce energy costs.
He said: “Ultimately, I'd love to tap into the region’s potential to produce hydro-electric power. We operate in a power-hungry industry so we have to look at alternative ways of sourcing that.”
Mr Jones is in talks with Carmarthenshire Council for a potential site but has not ruled out any particular area.
“I was speaking with Denbigh councillor Colin Hughes, who is a good friend of mine and he mentioned St Asaph Business Park, it’s close the A55 and has good connections.”
Mr Jones uses his home area for induction training for all UKFast new recruits, challenging them to climb Mount Snowdon, raft the lake and trek through the hills.
Mr Jones, who played for Denbigh’s Under 19s Rugby team, believes Wales could be a major player in the internet business.
He said: “To come from a place like Denbigh you’re almost told to leave and to get out if you wanted to make something of yourself.
“But now as an adult I’m always trying to get back.”
“North Wales is very close to my heart, and it’s time I pay something back to the region that raised me. The economy is showing signs of healing but Wales needs that extra boost to move from healing to growing and that’s what I aim to do.”