Working with partners to support the Covid-19 response is the immediate focus of new South of Scotland Enterprise

Working closely with partners both locally and nationally supporting businesses and communities is the top priority of the new South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) which goes live today (1 April).  This is even more urgent and necessary in response to the national Covid-19 crisis.

SOSE’s Board which was announced on 17 March has already had two virtual meetings.  It is clear from those that the most effective way to help support the region deal with the impact of Covid-19 is to work closely with Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and other partners to add to the collective response already well underway.  An initial meeting of the co-ordinating group took place last week.

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of SOSE said: “Today we go live as the new Economic Agency for the South of Scotland in the middle of a global public health crisis which is impacting on our economy.  We need to recognise the severity of the situation for many and we also need to look ahead to supporting the recovery. 

“In order to support our region, it is absolutely vital that we work as one collective voice for the South of Scotland alongside both councils to support this response in any way we can, and in a way that best serves the needs of communities and businesses across the region.  

“As part of that, we need to fully understand how best we can align our resources to help complement and potentially add to the local and national support packages already in place in a way that supports the unique challenges of the South. 

We have already had very productive discussions with both councils and continue to work with them as well as other partners to develop plans around where we can potentially add to support and resources during this extremely difficult time.”

Nick Halfhide, Interim Chief Executive of SOSE explained: “We fully understand this is a really upsetting and uncertain time for families, businesses and communities. The scale of the challenge is one which can only ever be overcome by everyone pulling together and identifying the specific needs in our region. SOSE will take some time to evolve as any new organisation would, but we are focusing our priorities and are committed to working together with our partners to deliver what’s needed in the best interest of our communities.”

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy said: ‘Scotland’s newest enterprise agency is starting its work facing economic circumstances that none of us could have predicted. I know that South of Scotland Enterprise, with a great team at its helm, will rise to that challenge. Its number one priority is now to help with the response to the COVID-19 crisis, working in partnership with national and local agencies to mitigate its impacts on businesses and communities across the South of Scotland.

“With a firm focus on the specific needs and circumstances of the south, I know that South of Scotland Enterprise will work with pace and purpose to support economic resilience and recovery, unlock the region’s full economic potential, and make a real and lasting difference to people’s lives.”

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development said: “Scottish Borders Council is committed to a collaborative approach with the new South of Scotland Enterprise. At this critical time, it is vital that we pull together to deliver what is best for our communities, businesses and enterprises, now and in the future. Given the enormous scale of the challenge, working as one team is the most effective way to help businesses survive, to make their way through the challenges get back on their feet wherever possible and to ensure the right support is available across the region.”

Depute Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Rob Davidson, said: “We are already working hard getting much needed Government grant support out to our local businesses. We are pleased to see the new agency up and running and look forward to working jointly with SOSE to ensure that our businesses receive the help needed during this crisis. Partnership working between both Councils, SOSE and other local bodies will help develop a robust recovery plan, looking beyond the immediate emergency.”

Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Elaine Murray, said: “Due to our shared history we already understand the value of partnership working in the South of Scotland. We have worked together on a number of deals and ventures and we are looking forward to the continuation of this successful partnership through SOSE.”