South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine yesterday (Monday) met with Scottish Enterprise bosses to discuss what more they can do to boost the local economy.
The meeting was arranged after Ms McAlpine – who sits on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee — accused Scottish Enterprise representatives of failing Dumfries and Galloway, with figures showing the area has the lowest percentage of growth export companies across the whole of Scotland.
The SNP MSP quizzed Adrian Gillespie, Managing Director of Operations, and Iain Scott, Chief Financial Officer on what more can be done in the area.
Commenting after the meeting, Ms McAlpine said:
"I am really pleased that we all seemed to be on the same page, with Scottish Enterprise recognising that they have a pivotal role to play in raising the ambition across the region.
"I've been pushing hard for the old Chapelcross site to be developed into an energy storage facility based around a renewable lead and the agency really recognised the potential for a development of such national and global significance."
Following her Committee exchange, Ms McAlpine was approached by constituents who felt that economic development stalled when powers were devolved to local authorities during the restructuring of the enterprise agencies.
Ms McAlpine said:
"There is a clear sense from the local business community that the corporate enterprise strategy is not a good fit for our rural economy, and Business Gateway in particular was not fulfilling its remit.
"After yesterday's meeting, Scottish Enterprise are looking to explore the possibility of a mentoring scheme not only to pair Business Gateway staff with more experienced colleagues within the enterprise agency, but also utilising retired businessmen to develop new business leaders."
"I was heartened that bosses recognised the strengths of the region, particularly in terms of agriculture and cultural tourism, and plan to take a more strategic lead in developing these sectors.
"I look forward to working with them, the local authority and the business community in the new year to take this forward."