A shared vision key to an area’s success

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Published Date: 

23 Feb 2016 - 14:15

Issued on behalf of Nicholas Ferguson CBE, Chair of Argyll and Bute Economic Forum

Read the full report here

From business leaders to newspaper editors and teachers, the private, public and academic sectors must come together to drive prosperity in one of Scotland’s most promising regions.

These are the words of Nicholas Ferguson CBE, Chairman of Sky plc, in his role as Chair of the Argyll and Bute Economic Forum.

A report issued today (23 February 2016) outlines recommendations for building the economy and reversing population decline in Argyll and Bute, Scotland’s second largest council area, and home to the highest number of inhabited islands (23).

Nicholas Ferguson said:

“I was asked to look at Argyll from a business perspective. Like any business, if we are to achieve our potential we need a shared vision, with all our members working to make that vision a reality.

Argyll and Bute can clearly succeed and grow. We have strong advantages in two of the world’s fastest growing industry sectors, namely tourism, and food and drink production, particularly aquaculture. We have a strong entrepreneurial tradition and many great small businesses. We have good education and one of the finest environments in which to live. We have an economy of opportunity here to be developed.

Very good work is already being done across the region.  We need to strengthen our leading sectors, and reduce the barriers to our growth. Key agencies are working in partnership to attract people and jobs.  With strong, positive, joined-up support, Argyll and Bute will thrive.”

Argyll and Bute is one of only five local authority areas in Scotland whose population is falling. It is losing younger people while gaining older. To build its economy, it must attract more of the 20-44 working age group. The report outlines the challenges facing the region and the advantages to be used in meeting them.

Nicholas Ferguson, who lives in the area, said:

“Private sector employment in Argyll and Bute grew through the recession over the last 10 years.  We expect to see strong future growth in a number of areas, namely tourism, food production and others such as IT services, marine science, academic research and teaching, to name but a few.

Marketing the area should be coordinated across all agencies involved. Schools and businesses must forge stronger links so that young people are aware of careers opportunities on their own doorstep. Where there are obstacles, such as mobile connectivity, coordinated efforts must be made to campaign for and achieve change. Agencies should focus their spending where possible on local producers and suppliers.

It’s about everyone coming together to back Argyll and Bute. It’s a great place with great potential. A shared vision will bring the prosperity that’s there for us to create.”

The Forum meets again in late March.


Notes to Editor

·         The Forum brings together members of the area’s key business sectors, leading agencies, as well as local and national government representatives. It was set up by Argyll and Bute Council, following the area’s Economic Summit in October 2014, to drive forward economic progress.


·         Economic Forum Members


Nicholas Ferguson, CBE, Chairman                Chairman of Sky plc

Alistair Barge                                                     Managing Director, Gigha Halibut

Cathy Craig                                                       Commercial Director, ScotRail

John Forteith                                                     Head of Business Development, Bidvest Foodservice Scotland

Neil Francis                                                       Director, Scottish Enterprise

Iain Jurgensen                                                   General Manager, Portavadie

Jane MacLeod                                                  Company Secretary, M&K Macleod Ltd and Secretary of Mid Argyll Chamber of Commerce

Jocelyn McConnachie                                      Commercial Director, CalMac Ferries Ltd

Sally Loudon                                                     Chief Executive, Argyll and Bute Council

Cllr Aileen Morton                                             Policy Lead for Sustainable Economic Growth, Argyll and Bute Council

Alex Paterson                                                       Chief Executive, Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Dr Tracey Shimmield                                        Managing Director, SAMS Research Services Ltd

Gordon Wales                                                   Director of Financial Management and Location Director for Argyll and Bute, Scottish Government

Neil Wells                                                           Managing Director, Lochs and Glens Holidays