Following calls for a dedicated economic development agency for the south of Scotland at Rural Parliament’s in 2014 and 2016, the South of Scotland Economic Partnership was formed and has today announced it’s first funding commitments.
Formed with a budget of £10m for the first year and chaired by Professor Russel Griggs OBE, the partnership known as SoSEP, has now committed £7.68 million to projects across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, to provide careers opportunities and build community resilience. Scottish Rural Action is represented by Amanda Burgauer on the partnership.
£6.6 million of the total funding has been awarded to a project to be delivered by the region’s two colleges, to create a physical and digital hub network to provide better access to training in health and social care, renewable energy, engineering and construction across the South of Scotland.
Funding awards have also been made to aid the regeneration of Annan by assisting with the delivery of the Annan Action Plan, following the recent announcement of the closure of Pinneys.
A centre of excellence for training in textiles will also be created in Hawick, and there is support for community resilience and development across seven communities.
Announcing the funding during a visit to Dumfries College, Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“This is a clear statement of the Scottish Government’s intent to grow and regenerate the economy in the South of Scotland.
“Earlier this year we brought together experts from the public and private sectors to create a new, dedicated partnership, in advance of the new Enterprise Agency, to drive forward that regeneration. SOSEP has now identified four projects that are sure to bring long-term social and economic benefits to the area. Of course these are major projects which will take time to be worked up and delivered.
“It’s great to see the South of Scotland Economic Partnership injecting fresh impetus into the area’s economy. I’m certain that, with the dedicated focus and expertise provided by SOSEP, backed up by significant levels of Scottish Government funding, we will see a tangible strengthening of the economic environment in one of Scotland’s most important regions.
Representing SOSEP, Professor Russell Griggs OBE said:
“This funding announcement is exciting news and confirms our ambition and commitment to make the south the thriving economy we know it can be.
“There is a huge amount of work underway in the Partnership to support and develop projects which will deliver long-term social and economic benefits. We will make further funding announcements shortly.
“Our recent engagement exercise with 26 events and over 500 people attending gave a valuable insight into what we require to do. Better opportunities for training and supporting communities were key priorities; the announcement of funding today demonstrates our commitment to address these priorities immediately.”