A host of local firms signed the Ayrshire Growth Pledge at a business breakfast event last week. They were showing their support and standing shoulder to shoulder with the team seeking to transform the Ayrshire economy.
The event, held at the Ayrshire College Campus in Kilmarnock, saw the Ayrshire Growth team outline their plans – and how a single Ayrshire economic agency will drive these ambitious proposals.
The Ayrshire Growth Deal team is targeting over £350 million of funding from the Scottish and UK governments to develop a number of projects across the region.
And they were joined at the event by global companies such as GSK, UPM, BAE Systems, Prestwick Airport Spaceport Project and local businesses such as Taste of Arran and Simpsinns.
They ended the morning by signing the Ayrshire Growth Pledge.
It states: As Advocates for Ayrshire Growth we are committed to working together to deliver a successful, inclusive and confident Ayrshire economy.
By signing the Ayrshire Growth Pledge, businesses have vowed to support Ayrshire as a vibrant and attractive business destination, participate in regular business and economic development events and fundamentally help Ayrshire grow.
Richard Jenner, Spaceport Director for Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport, said: "The business breakfast was a huge success and it was extremely encouraging to see everyone all behind the ambitious plans for Ayrshire. I was proud to sign the Ayrshire Growth Pledge on behalf of Glasgow Prestwick Airport.
"We all have our individual interests, but collectively we all want a stronger and more vibrant Ayrshire. By working together, we will get there."
Malcolm Simpson, of Ayrshire hospitality group Simpsinns, said: "Ayrshire is a fantastic place to invest and do business and myself and everyone at Simpsinns are totally behind the plans for the Ayrshire economy. There seems to be a real determination from the public and private sector to make change happen.
"It's great that the three Councils are working so closely together. As a business we don't see the boundaries. We see Ayrshire in its entirety and it's fantastic that this joined-up approach for the whole of Ayrshire is taking shape.
"I was delighted to learn even more about the plans at the breakfast and even more encouraged that there are exciting times ahead."
South Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Eileen Howat gave an update on the Ayrshire Growth Deal proposals.
She added: "While it was disappointing not to get a firm commitment from the UK Government in the Budget in November, there has been a lot of positive feedback and cross-party support from Westminster that confirms our proposals have merit and will make a real difference for people and communities across Ayrshire.
"We will continue to make the case for Ayrshire, lobby and push for the necessary support and we remain confident that our ambitious Ayrshire Growth Deal will come to fruition. This event marks a new chapter and with the backing of prominent local businesses, we will deliver on our common goal of making Ayrshire stronger and more successful than ever."
North Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Elma Murray said: "This has been an important stage in building a strong business consensus for the Ayrshire Growth Deal and a different way of working.
"A lot of positive work has been done and there is a real desire from Ayrshire businesses to move faster and to be bolder.
"There is a recognition by the Scottish and UK Governments that the traditional approaches aren't working. We need to take an inclusive approach to creating growth. It's about us saying we have massive potential and huge assets right here in Ayrshire, which can provide growth for the Scottish and UK economies.
"Signing the Ayrshire Growth Pledge demonstrates the determination and will for this to happen across both the public and private sectors.
East Ayrshire Council Chief Executive, Fiona Lees, outlined the timetable for the new Ayrshire economic partnership. A shadow body is expected to be in place by April this year, with it to be fully operational with a confirmed structure by April 2019.
Ms Lees added: "A regional partnership would help us create pace and get traction around our resources.
"It will be a fundamental shift in the way we operate. We will be co-ordinating council and national agency resources to get the best out of them and to ensure we have a one-door approach for businesses.
"But we must emphasise that the support of our private sector partners is hugely important. That's why we're delighted to see so many here today."