Enterprise Bill is momentous for South of Scotland, MSPs told

A new enterprise agency designed to boost the economy of the South of Scotland region will be up and running in eight months’ time, the Scottish Government has pledged.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing hailed the passing of legislation to set up the organisation as a “momentous day” for the area.

The new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency will cover the Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders regions.

And Mr Ewing said it would work to “transform the area’s economy by building on its strengths and its traditions”.

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Speaking as MSPs as debated the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill, he said the agency would help “respond to the different and distinct rural economy”.

Mr Ewing said: “We all recognise the untapped potential of the South of Scotland – it has real strengths in traditional sectors like farming, forestry, fishing and textiles.

“It has developed sectors like food and drink, tourism and creative industries and it has opportunities to contribute to the industries of the future, not least in the low carbon economy.

“This Bill sets out the legislative basis for a new agency with the right powers to take forward the right activities.”

MSPs unanimously approved the legislation, with work now underway to appoint a chair for the new organisation.