South of Scotland Enterprise publishes its first Operating Plan

The new Economic Development Agency for Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders has today published its first Operating Plan for 2020/21 which sets out its ambitious plans to put the region on the map and ensure its economy flourishes into the future.

South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), which went live on 1 April 2020, is committed to listening to the people of the South, to do things differently and to empower everyone to help them make the South of Scotland an even greater place to live, work, visit, learn and invest in.

Its Operating Plan published today provides a focus for the rest of the financial year, as well some achievements and priorities as it looks ahead to a wider period of consultation in order to develop its strategic action plan for the region.

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of SOSE explained: “We are here in the South, for the South and with the South and we truly believe the time is now for the South of Scotland.  We have the chance to take this opportunity with both hands and put our region firmly on the map. Collectively our region will flourish and the future will be brighter than it ever has been and we want to do this with those who live and work here.”

SOSE was formed by Scottish Government to work with the people and communities across the South of Scotland to establish the region as a centre of opportunity, innovation and growth.   To date, its focus has been on working as Team South of Scotland with the two Councils and other partners to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. 

Since May, the SOSE team have administered over £12m of Scottish Government funding to almost 300 businesses across the region. Going forward SOSE has made it clear that it intends to support the region to recover and look ahead to a positive future – not just through investment, but through tailored support that businesses and communities really need.

Professor Griggs added: “We are the first of Scotland’s public agencies whose legislation promotes a wider view on the economy and how it impacts all we do.  Jobs are important to us but so are communities and the environment.  We want to make sure that everyone, no matter who and where they are, has an opportunity to fulfil their ambitions.  

“We are also one of the first to have ‘Fair Work’ running through all of our activities. How we treat people matters to us and we want to ensure that this runs through our region too.  We are here and able to listen first-hand to what businesses, communities, and individuals need and then respond.”

This week saw the publication of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government with its focus on creating new, good, green jobs and SOSE are committed to supporting this activity in the South.

Interim Chief Executive, Nick Halfhide explained: “Like any other start-up organisation it will take some time for us to settle in and build our capacity and capability to do all that we want to.  We expect that will take us around three years, so this Operating Plan details where our efforts and resources will be focused across the remainder of our first year 2020/21.   

“We have also set out the work underway to develop our future ambitions for our region. This includes developing our Action Plan which will, following extensive consultation across the South of Scotland, define our longer-term priorities. It will guide our future focus and investments across all we have been established to do.”

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism Fergus Ewing said: “SOSE is key to delivering the best for the people of South of Scotland and they are focused on helping the local economy thrive.

“The agency’s first operating plan is key to this and will guide their work over the next seven months ahead of the publication of their full Action Plan in 2021.

“This milestone could not come at a more important time for the economy. The pandemic has significantly impacted many across Scotland and rural areas have been particularly hard hit.

“I look forward to watching SOSE continue to grow and deliver its plans for the region and the positive results this will yield.”

You can view our full Operating Plan as well as access other information as we evolve here.