Enterprise Area disappointment

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the Borders has missed out on grabbing a share of the millions of pounds being poured into 14 Enterprise Areas across Scotland to kick start the country’s economy .

These enterprise zones focus on developing four specific business areas: life sciences industries, low carbon and the renewables sector, and general manufacturing.

Announcing the Enterprise Areas, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said: “As a Government we are doing all we can to support jobs and create the best possible business conditions to achieve sustainable economic growth for Scotland.

“We have worked closely with our enterprise agencies to select sites which can exploit opportunities in growth sectors and in many cases these will help create jobs in areas of Scotland that are facing challenging economic conditions. They represent the strategic locations in our key sectors with clear, achievable opportunities for development in the short term.

“We are taking this innovative sectoral approach as it will make better use of resources and target investment where it will be most effective.

“Incentives available will depend on the characteristics of each site and these may include reduced business rates.

“In addition, we will consider opportunities presented by the emerging National Broadband Strategy to help make Enterprise Areas as attractive as possible to investors whilst Scottish Development International will provide inward investment assistance.

“The aim is to have Scotland’s Enterprise Areas operational from April.”

However, Councillor Vicky Davidson, SBC’s executive member for economic development, said: “It is disappointing news as the potential to reduce business rates in these chosen areas will make it even harder for the Borders to compete for inward investment or even to hold on to companies needing investment to expand.

“The areas chosen are based on the type of activity already clustered there and reflect considerable government investment already made in those areas and the chosen priority industries so we were not starting from a level playing field in being considered for inclusion.

“Clearly as only 14 sites were chosen there are many council areas in Scotland excluded. However, if high growth industries are attracted into Scotland as a result there may be wider spin-offs beyond these chosen areas and we will try to play into them as far as possible - the potential for servicing renewables in the Eyemouth area may be something we can link to the East of Scotland Renewables Enterprise Area which is to be based around Leith and Dundee.”

Jim Hume, Scottish LibDem MSP for South Scotland and rural affairs spokesperson, accused the Scottish Government of neglecting the Borders and said: “It’s absolute neglect from the Scottish Government that the Borders has been ignored in this announcement.

“The region is an area crying out for this type of economic focus which would undoubtedly attract much needed inward investment.

“In a low wage area like the Borders that means jobs.

“At a time when the latest jobs figures have just been announced, it’s a crushing blow to the region’s employment prospects.

“It’s obvious from this announcement that the Scottish Government are focussing their efforts on where they get votes rather than where people need jobs.”