Scottish Borders Council

Agenda item

Economic Development Update

Presentation on recent Economic Development progress by the Chief Officer Economic Development.  (Briefing note attached).


2.1       With reference to paragraph 1 of the Minute of 29 January 2019, there had been circulated copies of a briefing note providing an update on recent Economic Development activities.  The Chief Officer Economic Development, Mr McGrath, summarised the main points.  With regard to business activity during the quarter, Business Gateway had assisted 56 business start-ups and 8 of these had met the new classification of “Early Stage” growth.  The Scottish Borders Business Fund had received 6 applications between 1 January 2019 and 20 March 2019, and approved 5 grants valued at £13,878.87.  These projects were forecast to create 9.5 jobs with a forecast economic impact of £190,250 GVA.  In terms of regeneration activity, the Selkirk BID had progressed key projects identified within the business plan including the development of a town brand identity; new signage to complement the streetscape signage and the development of a new town website.  The Jedburgh CARS programme had been awarded a total of 9 repair grants with 8 completed or on site and a further 7 applications had been assessed.  The Hawick Business Growth Project for the redevelopment of the Armstrong Department Store was underway and the Council had acquired the site to redevelop it as a business incubator hub to provide small office units for up to 17 businesses.  A further initiative in Hawick was the establishment of a Textiles Training Centre for Excellence at Hawick High School, where Alistair Young had been appointed as Centre Manager.  The aim of the new training centre was to tackle a critical skills shortage hampering textiles companies’ efforts to boost their production and productivity.  A funding commitment of £610,000 had been confirmed by the South of Scotland Economic Partnership to support the set up and delivery of the project for the first two years.  Mr McGrath reported that the Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership hosted a conference at Peebles Hydro which had been a very successful day with a good turnout.  He also advised that work was planned for the new visitor welcome signage for Duns and Galashiels Town Centres and the new created cycle event, the Women’s Tour of Scotland would be visiting the Borders on Sunday 11 August 2019.


2.2     In terms of European Funding Programmes, Mr McGrath advised that clarification from UK and Scottish Governments had confirmed that applicants whose LEADER grant funding was agreed and contracted by June 2019 would be able to complete their projects, even if the work was scheduled to take place after leaving the EU.  With regard to the Council’s portfolio of leased industrial units yards and shops, the occupancy level for the last quarter was 89%.  The 168 property enquiries included 32 enquiries to purchase plots.  As part of the Change Works in Peebles (CWiP) energy efficiency project, an assessment of supply local chain opportunities had been completed.  The work had identified a range of opportunities and barriers to local businesses engaged in the installation of energy efficiency measures.  In response of the decarbonisation of both the electricity and gas grids, the Council had initiated liaison between SP Energy Networks and SGN to assess opportunities for local energy solutions.  The first workshop with SPEN was held on 25 February 2019 and a similar workshop with SGN was scheduled for 25 April 2019.  This partnership would assist in the development of a range of Council functions, including the Local Development Plan, Economic Strategy, major projects / infrastructures and potential future Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Policies.  Mr McGrath responded to the various questions raised by Members.



NOTED the update.



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