MSP Joan McAlpine has said south Scotland’s new enterprise agency should help drive a ‘sea change’ in Dumfries and Galloway’s economic performance.
The SNP MSP – who campaigned for the dedicated enterprise agency for the south of Scotland - said the body should act as a champion for region and deliver support to businesses of all sizes.
She said access to finance for SMEs ( Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) was one of the most pressing issues facing the region which she hoped the new agency would addess.
Ms McAlpine also called for dedicated hubs in both Dumfries town centre and Galloway to ensure that the agency serves the whole of south Scotland.
The MSP made the comments in her response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the new agency – which called for views on how the new body can best help the south of Scotland.
Commenting Ms McAlpine said:
“I want to see a sea change in the economic performance across the South of Scotland, and Dumfries and Galloway in particular. Our new agency should act as a champion for the region as well as providing appropriate business and community support, as is the case with the north through Highland and Islands Enterprise.
“While the agency serves the whole South Scotland it must address the particular problems of the South West.
“Access to capital is one of the key challenges for both SME’s and micro businesses in South Scotland. During my time on the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee I saw a lot of evidence that access to capital was particularly acute in South Scotland and this applied to private finance as well as public agency loans and grants. The Agency must address this if our businesses are to grow and develop.”
“The creation of a dedicated enterprise agency by the Scottish Government is a huge opportunity and we must grasp it. Dumfries and Galloway has the potential to be an economic success story. We already have very strong food and drink, creative, and manufacturing sectors – and the agency can push to define Dumfries and Galloway as a centre of excellence for them all.”
The south Scotland MSP also stressed the importance of making sure that the ‘same old voices’ were not allowed to dictate the priorities of the new body – commenting:
“We must listen to those who are already working successfully in businesses and communities in Dumfries and Galloway. I would particularly like the economic and human value of the region to be understood and valued by those working within the Agency who must work with the communities and groups in the region to co-produce ideas and drive forward the local economy.”