Plans for a new economic collaboration between the three Ayrshire councils are gathering pace.
At Cabinet meetings this month, councillors of the three local authorities approved plans that the bid for an Ayrshire Growth Deal will be submitted to the Scottish Government in March, 2016.
The initial plans were unveiled last year when the three local authorities committed £50,000 to develop the proposals. Scottish Enterprise also agreed to contribute £25,000.
Patrick Wiggins was then appointed as the Ayrshire Growth Bid Director, working groups were set up and a number of workshops were held to explore ideas and opportunities.
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 Deal will focus on five key areas - business architecture, physical infrastructure, skills and education, inclusive growth and digital infrastructure – while the underlying aim will be to create an 'inclusive economy by developing Ayrshire's core strengths particularly those of science, engineering and manufacturing'.
The focus on inclusive growth – creating opportunities for everyone - is core to the development of the AGD and will set Ayrshire apart from other Scottish Growth Deals. The Deal will aim to bring new activities to our towns, building strong communities and pathways to employment.
The working groups – which consist of members from the three local authorities, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Ayrshire College and the University of West of Scotland - are currently assessing a number of specific projects before finalising the AGD for its March submission.
A joint statement from the three Council leaders ( Willie Gibson NAC, Douglas Reid EAC and Bill McIntosh SAC) said: "All three Councils have much in common and by working together we can utilise and make the best of the resources available to us all.
"Growing our economies and creating jobs is a priority in all three areas. Of course there are issues unique to each individual area but by sharing our collective expertise, knowledge and resources we can really take our economies to a new level.
"The Ayrshire Growth Deal will be good for the whole of Ayrshire and for Scotland. We now need to persuade the Government to support it and to put our region on a national platform where the Ayrshire economy can grow and thrive and create sustainable jobs for future generations."