Date lodged: 11 August 2016
To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to attract investment in South Scotland.
Answered by: Paul Wheelhouse 15 September 2016
The Scottish Government is involved in a wide range of activities to attract investment in South Scotland. These activities include boosting export performance to attract foreign investment, developing transport links to help maximise the potential of the area as well as working with the South of Scotland Alliance to raise the profile of the South of Scotland and to identify and develop opportunities for growth.
Projects identified in the South of Scotland Alliance's Rural Regional Economic Development Programme as significant in supporting economic growth include four key areas of activity to maximise opportunities: Borders Railway and Central Borders Business Park, Mountain Biking, M74 Economic Development Strategy, and the Stranraer Waterfront. The Scottish Government is committed to creating a more inclusive form of growth that tackles inequalities whilst driving competitiveness and we are committed to working with the Alliance as these projects develop.
Over the last three years seven Regional Selective Assistance grants worth a combined £2,146,300 have been awarded to businesses in the South of Scotland, helping to create 175 new jobs. In the same timeframe six inward investments have been secured for the South of Scotland, creating 531 new jobs and safeguarding a further 67 jobs.
We also recognise that good digital infrastructure has an important role to play in attracting new investment. The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme is delivering over £410 million of investment to extend fibre broadband access across Scotland to areas where the market would not otherwise go, and over 95% of premises across the south of Scotland will have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2017 as a result of this investment. However, we want to push coverage even further and, as set out in the Programme for Government, the Scottish Government has committed to delivering 100% superfast broadband coverage by 2021 and we expect new procurements - to deliver new investment to meet our 100% target - to begin from 2017.