THE new economic development agency for Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders has published its first operating plan.
It sets out its ambitious plans to put the south on the map and ensure its economy flourishes.
South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), which went live on April 1, is committed to listening to the people of the south, doing things differently and empowering everyone to help make the south an even greater place to live, work, visit and learn and invest in.
The plan focuses on the rest of the financial year, along with some achievements and priorities as it looks to a wider period of consultation to develop its strategic action plan.
Professor Russel Griggs, chairman, said: “We’re here in the south, for the south and with the south and we truly believe the time is now for the south.
“We have the chance to take this forward 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 the Scottish government to work with the people and communities in the south 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 (Team SOS) with both councils and other partners to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since May, the SOSE team has administered more than £12m of government funding to almost 300 businesses.
“It’s made it clear it intends to support the region to recover and look to a positive future not only through investment but also through tailored support which businesses and communities really need.
Prof Griggs added: “We’re the first of Scotland’s public agencies, whose legislation promotes a wider view on the economy and how it has an impact on 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 one of the first to have Fair Work running through all our activities.
“How we treat people matters to us and we want to ensure this runs through our region, too.
“We’re here and able to listen first-hand to what businesses, communities and individuals need and respond.”
This week the government published its Programme for Government which focuses on creating new, good, green jobs and SOSE is committed to supporting this activity.
Nick Halfhide, interim chief executive, said: “Like any other start-up organisation, it will take some time for us to settle in and build our capacity and capability.
“We expect it to take us about three years so the operating plan details where our efforts and resources will be focused on the rest of 2020/21.
“We have set out the work underway to develop our ambitions for our region.
“This includes developing our action plan which will, after extensive consultation in the south, define our longer-term priorities.
“It will guide our focus on and investments in 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.”
To view the Operating Plan visit www.southofscotlandenterprise.com/who-we-are/accessing-our-information