Borders builders the ‘foundation of region’s economy’

DESPITE the economic downturn, the construction industry is still “vitally important” to the Borders economy and has the potential to be the fastest-growing sector in the region.

That is the view of Ged Gowans, one of three new directors of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce (SBCC), after he had met Scottish infrastructure minister Alex Neil.

Mr Gowans, of Hardies Property & Construction in Galashiels, was representing the SBCC at meeting in Edinburgh of the Scottish Chamber of Commerce’s council.

Mr Neil told chamber members how cuts in his government’s budget would affect the construction industry.

“It was a very interesting and worthwhile meeting,” said Mr Gowans. “We were assured the Borders rail link would definitely happen and would be run by Network Rail – and I had the opportunity of expressing the hopes and fears of the construction industry in the Borders.

“I also raised concerns about the reduction in training and development and the loss of skills and jobs if investment in the construction industry is not maintained and, indeed, improved. The rail project can only help bring more jobs and investment to the area, and as a facilitator of advice and networking information to the construction sector, through my role with the SBCC, I am relishing having the opportunity to attend meetings and pass on information to the members.

“The construction industry is still vitally important to the Borders economy, despite the downturn, and has been cited as having the potential to be the fastest-growing industry sector in the area.”

Mr Gowans added: “I am confident my experience in construction will benefit the members as the sector has been badly hit by the downturn. The chamber is absolutely vital for business networking and is a real cornerstone of our business community.”

Also bringing their expertise to the SBCC board are Craig Little and James Aitken, representing the financial and legal sectors respectively.

Mr Little, a partner of Berwick-based Greaves West & Ayres, said: “The chamber continues to provide invaluable help and support to local business and this is more important than ever during the current period of economic uncertainty. I look forward to helping the chamber and its members on all financial aspects of their business.”

Mr Aitken, who was brought up in Galashiels, works with Legal Knowledge Scotland which provides legal support to law firms, specialising in property law, tax, wills, trusts and succession.

“I split my time between the Borders and Edinburgh and see every day how hard the Borders must work for its voice to be heard,” said Mr Aitken. “But the news is not all bad and it’s great to know we will soon have not just one, but two, crematoria in the region and that fundraising is well under way for the first palliative care unit at the BGH.”