The Borders Chamber of Commerce has reiterated its call to industry that the Borders is well and truly “open for business”.
At the last Board meeting, directors were informed by Councillor Stuart Bell, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic development, that the council had recently announced a new Business Loan Scheme. This scheme is aimed at small businesses who require financial support.
Affordable loan support of up to £10,000 can be considered to help businesses grow and support existing jobs. He added that “match funding” loans of up to £50,000 are also available to provide “gap funding” under the South of Scotland Loan Scheme.
One particularly topical subject was also discussed – the revitalisation of Borders high streets and reference was made to the recent report showing a decline in high street footfall. Councillor Bell added that improving retail turnover and performance was one SBC’s key economic objectives.
In a recent meeting with community leaders in Hawick and Eyemouth (both recently identified by the Scottish Agricultural College’s “Rural Scotland in Focus 2012” as being amongst the 20 most vulnerable towns in Scotland), Scottish Government Minister Alec Neil, had discussed how SBC and the Scottish Government could to work together to stimulate town regeneration as well as high street revitalisation.
In thanking Councillor Bell for being keen to talk to the Chamber, James Aitken, convener of the Borders Chamber said, that the close relationship between the council and the chamber was beneficial to every business in the Borders and that it was imperative that this dialogue and discussion was maintained.
He added that over the last 12 months the Borders had seen many new developments including the Borders first crematorium, with a second on the way; Eyemouth Harbour which can now receive cruise ships; the 3G sports arena; the Abbotsford House visitor centre; our first palliative care unit; the proposed purpose-built mountain bike chairlift at Innerleithen; the Bill McLaren rugby museum and the return of our railway. Once again, the Chamber reiterated its full support for the new Borders Railway and looked forward to seeing an extension from Tweedbank to Hawick and eventually to Carlisle.
He concluded: “The Borders is definitely open for business!”