Tourism, food production, and linking learning and local employment opportunities for young people will be the initial areas for action by Argyll and Bute’s Economic Forum.
The forum, chaired by Nick Ferguson CBE, Chairman of Sky plc, agreed its priorities when it met for the first time this week.
The forum was set up by Argyll and Bute Council, following the area’s Economic Summit in October 2014, to drive forward economic progress in the area.
Nick Ferguson said, “This was a constructive initial meeting. Argyll and Bute is wonderfully diverse in its niche strengths and its opportunities for economic growth. The first challenge for the forum was therefore to identify where to focus our initial efforts.
“The forum brings together excellent minds, considerable business experience, and strong commitment to building a prosperous future for Argyll and Bute. Together we agreed an approach for action that will build on existing strengths and support key areas for growth.”
The forum comprises
Dr Tracey Shimmield, Managing Director, SAMS Research Services Ltd; Jane MacLeod, Company Secretary, M&K Macleod and Secretary of Mid Argyll Chamber of Commerce; Alistair Barge, Managing Director, Gigha Halibut; Iain Jurgensen, General Manager, Portavadie; Neil Wells, Managing Director, Lochs and Glens Holidays; John Forteith, General Manager, Forteiths Food Distribution Company; Cathy Craig, Commercial Director, Caledonian MacBrayne; Alex Paterson, Chief Executive, Highlands and Islands Enterprise; Neil Francis, Director, Scottish Enterprise; Councillor Dick Walsh, Leader, Argyll and Bute Council; Sally Loudon, Chief Executive, Argyll and Bute Council; Gordon Wales, Director of Financial Management, and Location Director for Argyll and Bute, Scottish Government.
Explaining how the forum identified its priorities, Nick Ferguson said, “Jobs bring people and prosperity. To create jobs we need to focus on Argyll and Bute’s best opportunities– where employment is already growing, where investment is being made, and where there is advantage in comparison to other areas. Tourism and food production are two key opportunities for further development in Argyll and Bute.
“To take up jobs, we need people of working age. Our third priority focus will therefore be on how to make Argyll and Bute a destination of choice for our young people. A key part of this will be to consider how best to raise awareness among young people of the career options that exist here in Argyll and Bute, and to explore options for more closely linking education, training and local business opportunities.”
The next steps for the forum will be to consider obstacles to progress in each area, and consider what if any additional research is required to support understanding of solutions that will deliver results.
Nick Ferguson said, “Argyll and Bute has so much potential for economic growth. Prosperity is there to be created.”
The Economic Summit, which gave rise to the Economic Forum, was organised by Argyll and Bute’s Community Planning Partnership (CPP). The CPP, which brings together key organisations from the public and voluntary sectors, works to deliver the Single Outcome Agreement (SOA).
The overall aim of the SOA is to build the economy of Argyll and Bute on a growing population.
The forum will work towards
Job creation; Long term strategic development of our economy; Raising awareness of and influencing issues affecting our economy; Informing multi-agency business plans to support our economy; Enabling better communication between sectors to improve the economy; Ensuring our workforce has the skills to enable our economy to grow; Promoting inward investment