The strengths of the Borders economy, especially in ourism and agriculture, were highlighted this week in a report to the region’s Chamber of Commerce.
In his report to the chamber’s AGM, Jack Clark, convenor, highlighted those two sectors as being of vital importance to future growth.
Speaking on Friday, June 10, Mr Clark said: “We in the Borders need to remind ourselves what a beautiful and vibrant region we live in – and what a great place it is to do business from. I feel we sometimes forget this.
“Of course we have issues and challenges – which part of the country doesn’t? – but when you factor in quality of life, proximity to Edinburgh, the excellence of our schools and increasing business opportunities, then I believe few areas have more to offer.
“And it is that thought that lies at the heart of the chamber’s increasing activity as the voice of business in the Borders to attract economic development in this marvellous region.”
Mr Clark reserved particular praise for the work of the Scottish Borders Business Awards, which the chamber will again host in November.
“These awards are an effective showcase for excellence and innovation in the Borders,” he said, “and a chance for local businesses to sell themselves in front of a wide audience.”
He continued: “Many of the businesses we expect to be nominated for an award will be tourism-based. I spoke last year about the need to capitalise on the energy to be found amongst local tourism providers in seeking out ever greater opportunities. Tourism is one the cornerstones of the Borders economy and there is no doubt it has received a welcome and significant boost from the opening of the railway last year.
“Agriculture is another main stay of the local economy. Farmers across the Borders will be relieved by the Scottish Government’s promise – repeated by the Minister, Fergus Ewing, as recently as June 8 - that funds from the 2015 EU Basic Payment Scheme will finally be paid by the end of June.
“This vital money is not a subsidy. It is a means of ensuring that farmers – especially those in the livestock sector – can continue to produce food at an economic price to the consumer. Without it, many businesses would find it difficult to compete. The Chamber has consistently called on the Scottish Government to sort out the computer problems which caused the late payments. Now we are seeking assurances that the problems will never arise again. Only time will tell.”