A new advisory group for small businesses in Wales has been announced.
Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said the body will report to the Welsh Assembly Government and advise ministers on their economic development plans.
Mr Jones, AM for Ynys Mon, described small medium enterprises (SMEs) as being vital to the Welsh economy.
He said: “Unlike many larger businesses, SMEs often lack the resources to be able to participate fully and engage with the government.
“We are establishing this new SME advisory group so the views and needs of small businesses are fully represented at the heart of our decision making process.”
The new advisory group will be made up of umbrella bodies representing SMEs and could also include the owners of small firms as well.
Officials say it will be an “informal group” that will meet quarterly, and while representatives will not be paid for their participation, “reasonable costs” will be reimbursed.
Janet Jones, Wales chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, welcomed the move.
She said: “We are pleased the minister is implementing action to secure small business representation as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s plans, in moving towards a more sustainable economy.
“For us, we genuinely hope this will be for the benefit of SMEs throughout Wales and the Welsh economy.”
It is also expected the group will help the Welsh Assembly’s new sector panels to work with SMEs more effectively.
Last week, Plaid leader Mr Jones announced the chairs of the six sector panels – which included Biotechnology entrepreneur Sir Christopher Evans.
Port Talbot-born Sir Christopher, reportedly worth £158 million and founder of venture capital fund Excalibur Fund Managers, will lead the panel supporting The Assembly Government’s life sciences team.
“These new sector panels have one clear role – to use their private sector success and experience to help us identify the best opportunities for business growth,” said Mr Jones.