A thriving and competitive Ayrshire economy where people, communities and businesses prosper and succeed is the focus of a funding bid that is being proposed by the three local Councils in East, North and South Ayrshire.
Over the next two weeks, Councillors in the three areas will be asked to approve plans – and commit a total of £150,000 investment – to develop an Ayrshire Regional Growth Deal bid that can be submitted to the Scottish Government.
The intention is that a successful bid will form the basis of a long-term economic and investment strategy that will transform both public and private sector efforts to regenerate the region.
The overall objective of the ambitious proposals is to establish a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach to tackling barriers to economic growth such as long-term unemployment, levels of inward investment, falling and ageing populations, and the rate of business growth.
It will also capitalise on the many economic assets and strengths across Ayrshire such as the availability and location of potential investment sites; the area's strong heritage and sense of identity; the many coastal/maritime features and assets; and sector-leading industries such as aerospace, engineering, food and drink, life sciences and tourism.
Each Council is proposing a £50,000 contribution, supported by an additional £25,000 from Scottish Enterprise, to take forward a programme of work to turn the development of a Growth Deal proposal into a reality.
The bid will include the creation of a robust vision and strategy, a fully developed business case, and a package of specific projects that will be able to demonstrate strong impacts and outcomes such as job creation, business growth and inward investment.
It is anticipated that the Ayrshire Regional Growth Deal proposals will set out plans for investment and economic transformation over the next 15-20 years, creating a sustainable and lasting legacy for generations to come.
Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: "An Ayrshire Regional Growth Deal would be a game-changer – and a life-changer – and I hope members support these proposals to see this through to fruition. By working in partnership not just with our Ayrshire authority neighbours, but with the wider public sector and, crucially, the private sector, we will be able to maximise the potential of our economy to its fullest, which will reap benefits right across the region.
"Ayrshire needs to be competitive – and stay competitive – in a global market and unlocking access to the kind of funding support that has only been available to cities and their surrounding regions so far will be key to helping us achieve that. This is the first step on an exciting journey and I look forward to seeing it move forward and delivering positive outcomes for everyone in Ayrshire."
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: "This is a unique opportunity for all of Ayrshire to work together to develop a proposition which will support economic growth and contribute to significant job creation across the region. I welcome these proposals and look forward to working with our public and private sector colleagues across Ayrshire to realise the region's full economic potential."
North Ayrshire Council Leader Willie Gibson, said: "Growing our economy and creating jobs is North Ayrshire Council's number one priority and our local efforts are paying real dividends on the ground for our communities.
"However, we recognise that to initiate a step change in the Ayrshire economy we need a new approach that will deliver future growth for the region. Ayrshire boasts many economic assets yet continues to experience high levels of unemployment within some of our communities. We recognise that by working with Government and our local partners to negotiate a deal for Ayrshire, we have the opportunity to put our region on a national platform where we can boost the Ayrshire economy to grow and thrive and create sustainable jobs for future generations."
The Ayrshire Regional Growth Bid will be considered by the three Councils as follows: