Wood calls for ‘mean­ing­ful’ eco­nomic devel­op­ment

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - NEWS - BY KEITH FINDLAY

Sir Ian Wood has called on the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors to work to­gether to de­liver “mean­ing­ful” re­gional eco­nomic devel­op­ment around Scot­land by copy­ing the north-east model.

The chair­man and founder of eco­nomic devel­op­ment body Op­por­tu­nity North East (One) said yes­ter­day the rest of Scot­land could ben­e­fit from the same kind of part­ner­ship that was al­ready de­liv­er­ing re­sults in Aberdeen city and shire.

Speak­ing at a Business in Par­lia­ment con­fer­ence at Holy­rood in Ed­in­burgh, he said that for re­gional eco­nomic part­ner­ships to work, they needed a spon­sor­ing agency, clear guide­lines and struc­tures, pri­vate sec­tor lead­er­ship, pub­lic-sec­tor part­ner­ships and fund­ing.

All of these were miss­ing across much of Scot­land, Sir Ian said, adding: “My chal­leng­ing pro­posal is for the pri­vate sec­tor across Scot­land to em­u­late what we have done in the north­east of Scot­land – es­tab­lish sig­nif­i­cant pri­vate sec­tor funds to drive devel­op­ment.

“Al­most two years in, this model is work­ing and catalysing ac­tion, cre­at­ing new part­ner­ships and lever­ag­ing ad­di­tional in­vest­ment in sec­tor-spe­cific eco­nomic devel­op­ment ac­tiv­ity, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion and sup­port of the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors.

“My pro­posal is to set your­self a five-year pro­gramme and aim to raise £2mil­lion per an­num, but on the un­der­tak­ing from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment that it will match fund­ing to give lo­cal eco­nomic devel­op­ment groups some mean­ing­ful re­sources.

“Each of these should work closely with Scot­tish En­ter­prise and should cer­tainly as­pire to get fund­ing from it. That would un­doubt­edly give the pri­vate sec­tor a very mean­ing­ful role to play in the devel­op­ment of their re­gion and the na­tional econ­omy.”

One and its sec­tor boards were cre­ated in 2015 to strengthen and di­ver­sify the north-east econ­omy.

Sir Ian said: “We have about 75 se­nior business peo­ple plus pub­lic sec­tor and aca­demic equiv­a­lents fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing their in­dus­tries and get­ting other key busi­nesses and or­gan­i­sa­tions en­gaged in our work. We have a good re­la­tion­ship with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, the two univer­si­ties, the lo­cal col­lege and, ob­vi­ously, busi­nesses and in­dus­try sec­tors.

“We’re not about talk, we are about ac­tion, plan­ning, do­ing and de­liv­er­ing change, and that’s re­ally what the whole of Scot­land needs.”

“We are about ac­tion, plan­ning, do­ing and de­liv­er­ing”

Sir Ian Wood says the north-east is lead­ing the way

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