Rachael Hamilton MSP has welcomed the passing of the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill, which will create a new enterprise agency to serve the Borders.
The new Agency which will be largely modelled on the costs and staffing levels of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, will serve the unique needs of the south of Scotland, such as the retention of young people, improving digital connectivity and closing the various skills gaps.
The South of Scotland Enterprise Bill was introduced to Parliament on 25 October 2018. This will create a new non-departmental public body called South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), which will operate in the local authority areas of the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.
If the Scottish Government's proposed timings are achieved, SoSE will become operational in Spring 2020. Until then, the South of Scotland Economic Partnership is preparing the way for the new agency, bringing a different approach to economic development.
Ms Hamilton spoke in the final debate of the Bill’s passage through the Scottish Parliament.
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, Rachael Hamilton said:
“The South of Scotland Enterprise Agency holds the key to unlocking significant potential right across our region, and I look forward to the renewed economic drive that it will hopefully deliver.
“We have seen how successful Highlands and Islands Enterprise has been, and the new agency will offer easier access to business support, removing the barriers which people experience in obtaining funding.
“The agency should firstly, be an enabler, not a disabler. It must be dynamic and suit the needs of the South of Scotland.
“The gender pay gap is an issue, which I believe deserves the greatest attention. If we are to retain young people, especially young women in the Borders, we need to ensure that the gap closes. I hope the new agency will deliver such changes”.