Alasdair MacLeod and Christopher Thomson from the Scottish Government joined Neil MacLennan from the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and David McIntosh of the Scottish Futures Trust on the two-day visit, where officers from Argyll and Bute Council outlined the case for a Rural Growth Deal – which is seen as a key part of the drive to reverse the decline in population in the area.
Forecasts estimate that by 2027 Argyll and Bute will need 10,000 more people to boost business development activity and deliver services for Argyll and the West Coast of Scotland.
Councillor Aileen Morton, leader of the council and policy lead for economic development, believes a Rural Growth Deal can help Argyll and Bute to prosper.
She said: “We believe that Argyll and Bute can make a strong contribution to the Scottish and UK economies, and that just like cities, rural communities have a right to access new opportunities that will bring inclusive growth.
“It is in everyone’s interest that rural Scotland thrives, and our Rural Growth Deal is vital to unlocking investment across the whole of Argyll and Bute.
“We have strong backing from local residents and businesses for our Deal, and, along with our partners, we’re working with the UK and Scottish Governments to bring about the transformational investment that we need.”
A public consultation attracted more than 900 respondents, with 97 per cent saying they support a Rural Growth Deal.
Members of both the Scottish and UK Parliaments have also backed the plans.
The proposals for a Rural Growth Deal are designed by the council to deliver success across Argyll and Bute, based on three key drivers.
Connecting: the area’s high value business sectors with national and international business markets; our local economic successes with national strategic priorities.
Attracting: additional skills, training and learning opportunities; new residents, visitors and businesses.
Growing: doing more of what works; making more of the area’s natural and built resources.
More information on the Rural Growth Deal is available on the council website at https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/rgd