Council leaders have welcomed further support for the Ayrshire Growth Deal – the exciting initiative to build on Ayrshire's potential to boost business, jobs and prosperity.
Local MPs and MSPs expressed broad cross-party political support for the ambitious plans to transform the Ayrshire, Scottish and UK economies at a special briefing session hosted by the three Ayrshire Councils at NATS Prestwick.
The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work also confirmed his support for the ambitions to secure a deal in response to a parliamentary question, while the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution – in his budget announcement – also confirmed that the Scottish Government is considering the scope of an Ayrshire Growth Deal.
The message from the politicians is very much one of support for this once in a lifetime opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to the economy in Ayrshire, Scotland and UK.
Ayrshire Growth Deal Director Patrick Wiggins said: "It's very encouraging to see the level of interest and engagement around the Ayrshire Growth Deal really gathering pace.
"There has been a very positive response from the MPs and MSPs, who are all eager to help out in any way they can and make this deal happen for Ayrshire."
Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: "We are delighted that the the Cabinet Secretary confirmed that he is considering the scope of an Ayrshire Growth Deal.
"There is no doubt that the Ayrshire Growth deal will act as a powerful catalyst for regeneration in Ayrshire. We have worked tirelessly to develop ambitious and achievable strategic business cases that will create jobs, develop and build on Ayrshire's key strengths and deliver economic growth that will enrich all our communities.
"We look forward to working closely with the UK and Scottish Governments over the coming months to develop our businesses cases even further. We are confident the final business cases we put forward for funding will be incredibly strong."
South Ayrshire Council Leader, Councillor Bill McIntosh, said: "It's great to see momentum building around the Ayrshire Growth Deal and we very much welcome the growing support from our politicians.
"The Growth Deal will be, without a doubt, an absolute game changer for our people, businesses and communities, levering in jobs and investment and creating a legacy that will make a difference for years to come.
"Growing the support base for our ambitious proposals will be a key element in transforming the Growth Deal from an ambition into a reality and we'll be doing all we can to highlight the benefits of our approach in the weeks and months ahead. Ayrshire has the potential to be at the forefront of a major economic boost for both Scotland and the UK and, with the support of Holyrood and Westminster, we will make that happen."
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: "We welcomed the news from the Scottish Government last week that they will consider these proposals, which will transform communities across Ayrshire.
"For many months now we have been working collectively across Ayrshire on a range innovative and ambitious business proposals as part of our approach and it is encouraging to receive recognition for our efforts at this stage in the process. I look forward to working with the Scottish and the UK Government to make these ambitions a reality."
The Deal will aim to develop further and build on the success of the area's key industries – including Aerospace and Space, Life Sciences and Manufacturing – while providing the infrastructure and support to make our businesses even more innovative and international in their outlook.
It will also seek to exploit Ayrshire's location and capitalise on the superb opportunities that Ayrshire's coast, harbours and ports provide. The proposed projects will make a major contribution to the delivery of national tourism strategies such as 'Awakening the Giant' as well as providing opportunities to address issues such as the provision of land for the development of new housing. Ongoing work will celebrate the unique relationship between our islands and coast, whilst considering key destination strengths such as, people and communities, heritage, the environment and quality of life benefits.
The AGD team will continue to get feedback from the UK and Scottish Government and work alongside partners to inform the next stage of the process.
It is envisaged that this could lead to approval and implementation of an AGD from mid-2017