By Steve Howell in San Francisco

The Welsh Government’s decision to appoint a permanent representative in San Francisco has been welcomed by businesses taking part in a trade mission to the city this week.

First Minister, Carwyn Jones, who is leading the trade mission, announced the plan yesterday. He said a Welsh Government member of staff will be based at the British Consulate working closely with the UK Trade & Invest team in the city.

The move expands Wales’s presence in the United States, which is currently restricted to representatives in New York and Washington D.C. on the east coast.

“San Francisco has one of the world’s most famous sites with the Golden Gate Bridge and our presence here in the city can be described as Wales’s bridge to the vast West Coast economy,” said First Minister, Carwyn Jones.

“The Consulate provides us with the perfect base to promote what Wales can offer to businesses and potential investors. It is the duty of the Welsh Government to do all it can to attract high quality investment and to achieve this we need to be visible in markets such as the West Coast.

“We have a simple message – Wales is open for business, is an excellent environment to locate and is welcoming to companies.”

The creation of a new Welsh Government presence in San Francisco comes after the First Minister held talks on potential economic links with the Mayor of San Francisco Edwin Lee and officials representing the Governor of California, Jerry Brown.

The latest figures show Wales’s trade with the United States is growing and stood at £3.3 billion in 2012. Eighteen Welsh companies from a number of sectors are accompanying the First Minister on the trade mission to build on this momentum.

Mark Skingley, founder and director of Swansea-based software developer Kaimai Research, welcomed the plan to appoint a permanent Wales representative on the doorstep of Silicon Valley.

“The benefits are a familiar face, a friendly resource but crucially a knowledge that is current,” he said.

“They are here and networking in the tech community, and that means they can open doors. And that is invaluable.”

Alan Woodward, client services manager for Merthyr-based clinical research service provider Simbec, said: “The opening of a Welsh Government office in San Francisco is a positive development. With support from the office, we will be able to extend our client base in the Bay Area and it will provide us with a springboard for gaining new business on the west coast in general.

“Simbec has some excellent pharma and biotech clients in the US already benefiting from the early clinical services we provide.”

His colleague, medical director Salvatore Febbraro, added: “For sure, having a presence in San Francisco is going to help in delivering our best ideas and skills by keeping our commitment and engagement. For a successful future, it is important to build a community of people dedicated to achieving a higher purpose and growth.”