South of Scotland Enterprise Agency nearing inception

Members of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and infrastructure Committee  (21 Nov) will be asked to note the creation of a new enterprise agency dedicated to transformation of the economy in the South of Scotland and interim arrangements prior to its inception.

The new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency will cover Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders and offer a once in a generation opportunity to improve the level of investment in economic growth, enterprise, skills and innovation. It is intended that the new Agency will closely align its work with Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council and VisitScotland.

The creation of the new agency will require primary legislation and it is expected to be operational by 1 April 2020. To pave the way, an Interim Economic Partnership is being created to prepare the ground for the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency.  To support the Partnership, an Advisory Group, who will have a mixture of skills and experience, predominantly from the private sector, but also some with experience of education and the Third Sector, will be established from business and other non-public sector stakeholders to agree a strategic plan to take activities and ideas forward.

The Partnership will operate throughout the interim period prior to the creation of the Agency.  The Partnership will be comprise, Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders Councils, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland.  A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed by partner members setting out the high level aims and objectives of the partnership and underlining their commitment.

The Scottish Government has now appointed a private sector Chair of the Interim South of Scotland Economic Partnership: , OBE. Professor Griggs’ duties will start with the establishment of the Interim Economic Partnership and the interim arrangements designed to deliver early benefit from the new agency in advance of the legislative process

In addition to the above appointment, Rob Dickson from Scottish Borders Council has been appointed as the lead individual who will coordinate the partnership during the interim period.  Mr Dickson will be supported by an Executive Team made up of senior officers from the partner organisations.

Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Elaine Murray commented on the appointments: “Our Council welcomes this interim partnership which will provide innovative approaches to the economic needs of our area in addition to recognising and promoting new opportunities.  I am pleased to hear that both these positions have been successfully filled. These posts require excellent knowledge of both the economic challenges of the South of Scotland and of the economic development structures and environment and I am sure both Professor Griggs and Rob Dickson are ready for the challenges of these positions.”

Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Archie Dryburgh said: “The creation of the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency presents a unique opportunity for us to make a real impact on our economy and the wellbeing of our residents. This is our chance to bring forward innovative and creative solutions to address the economic challenges in our region.

But we can’t be complacent; this is a huge challenge which will require new investment from across all partnerships, including the Scottish Government.  Providing Committee Members agree, we will now start lobbying the Scottish Government to make additional resources available to support the work of the Interim Economic Partnership to ensure early benefits from the development of the new agency.”