Issued 23rd June 2017
SOUTH OF SCOTLAND ENTERPRISE
The announcement by the Scottish Government of the setting up of a new South of Scotland Enterprise has been welcomed by the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce.
“We have been actively pursuing this initiative for a number of years,” said Jack Clark, Chairman of the Chamber, “and provided written evidence on the subject to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee. The Chamber has also given oral evidence twice to this Committee in both Galashiels and Dumfries along with our colleagues in the Dumfries and Galloway Chamber in support of such an Agency.”
He added that there was a feeling, right across the business community, that the South of Scotland had been somewhat neglected over the past few decades but that with the re-development of Borders Rail and this new Regional Enterprise agency, optimism in the Borders economy in particular was improving. “It has always been strange how a region sitting between two huge economic areas, Central Scotland and the North East of England, can have under-performed the way it has – the reasons were clear, lack of basic business infrastructure, and this is what agencies such as the Highlands and Islands Enterprise and its predecessor, the Highlands and Islands Development Board were set up to address.
“It is our hope that this new Agency will also have the same cultural ethos that has long been part of the Highland agencies’ remit as these Borderlands have traditions and cultures which are equally as rich as any in Scotland.” He added, “We are proud to have played our part in the setting up of this Agency and will look forward to working with it in the future and seeing the boost it can provide to the Borders economy.”
Issued 12th June 2017
The Annual General Meeting of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce was held on 7th June at the Ednam House Hotel, Kelso. The guest speaker was Tim Allan, newly appointed Chairman of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
SBCC Chairman Jack Clark said: “Once again this year, I am delighted to report on a Chamber whose membership is expanding as, indeed, is its activity and relevance. We are active across all sectors of significance to the Borders’ economy, representing the views of the business and commercial community and making sure elected representatives at all levels hear our message loud and clear. The Chamber acts as the voice of Borders business to the outside world and our plans for further growth and re–organisation will ensure that the Chamber in years ahead will play an even greater role in promoting business success, job creation and economic growth in this region.”
In his Report to the meeting, Mr Clark went on to highlight the following:
- LEADER Funding: The Chamber is awaiting the outcome of an application for Leader Funding from the EU. The application was initiated 18 months ago – before the Result of the EU referendum in June 2016 – and success would enable the Chamber to operate, in line with Scotland’s other 25 Chambers of Commerce, as a sustainable organisation with permanent staff (including a CEO and support staff) and to establish a network of offices throughout the region with a new, permanent HQ probably in Hawick. A huge amount of work has gone in to this application with support coming from elected officials and local business. Mr Clark singled out Margaret Simpson MBE and her staff at the Borders Social Enterprise Chamber for their invaluable help.
- Change to SBCC’s Constitution: in line with the proposed re-organisation and expansion of the Chamber outlined above, Members of SBCC agreed to a Resolution to change the Chamber’s status from a Company Limited by Guarantee to a non-charitable Community Interest Company.
- During the year, SBCC had once again organised the Borders Business Awards, held annually in November. This award scheme recognises all that is best across the range of vibrant businesses, large and small, based in the Borders and is an excellent platform from which companies can promote their services to a much wider audience. There are plans to expand the awards for the current year.
- Over the past 12 months, the Chamber has developed a private sector-led Tourism Initiative, in line with suggestions made by former Scottish Government Tourism Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, designed to boost the voice of tourism related businesses in the region. Along with agriculture, tourism is one of the most important sectors for the Borders’ economy. This initiative is on-going.
- The Chambers’ new e-bulletin newsletter is sent out to 800 businesses in the Borders and is proving popular as away of sharing views and promoting services between companies.
In concluding the meeting, Mr Clark said: “The fact that our electronic newsletter goes out to 800 businesses tells you that the Borders is a great place in which to establish, run and grow successful businesses. It is more important than ever that we have a strong voice promoting and protecting the interests of local companies on the Scottish, UK and international stages. The plans for Chamber expansion and re-organisation are designed to make sure that the Chamber is professionally structured and staffed so that we can support and promote the outstanding businesses which do so much for our local economy.”