Creation of South of Scotland Enterprise gets unanimous MSP backing
Southern Scotland is to get its own enterprise agency after all parties in Holyrood backed the bill to establish the body at its final stage.
Serving the local authority areas of Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway from 2020, the South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) body will operate along the same lines as Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said the new agency would bring a “fresh and different approach” to the area.
He said: “We have been given the green light to press ahead with ambitious plans to create an enterprise agency that is tailored specifically to capitalise on the tremendous untapped potential in the area, driving inclusive and sustainable growth whilst taking into account the area’s distinct economic circumstances.
“Importantly the new agency will be an exemplar in delivering real progress on fair work practices, tackling issues like the gender pay gap and ageism in the workplace, as well as promoting the Living Wage.”
Scottish Conservatives MSP for Galloway Finlay Carson, and shadow minister for natural environment and digital economy, said he hoped the legislation was the “dawn of a new era” for Dumfries and Galloway.
“For far too long, the south of Scotland has suffered from a lack of focus and investment, which has resulted in many people—in particular young people—moving away, and potential investors being put off by the lack of adequate infrastructure,” he said.
South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: “We have a vibrant and ambitious social enterprise base that is already making a difference to communities, but it is desperate to do more and to access the same support that is offered to other businesses to help to achieve that growth. We also have excellent local colleges and a university campus with the potential to expand so that they can deliver more of the skills that our communities need.”