Plans to set up a training centre in the Borders for textile industry workers have been boosted by a promise of £610,000 to fund the project.
That money will be paid out over two years by the South of Scotland Economic Partnership, a forerunner to an enterprise agency for the region due to be launched in 2020.
The aim of the planned centre for excellence, to be sited in Hawick, is to tackle what is described as a critical skills shortage hampering companies’ efforts to boost their productivity.
It is one of four key enterprise projects intended to reinvigorate the south of Scotland’s economy.
The partnership is handing out £7.68m altogether, and £6.6m of that will be split between Borders College and Dumfries and Galloway College to create a physical and digital hub network to provide better access to training in health and social care, renewable energy, engineering and construction.
Holyrood rural secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This is a clear statement of the Scottish Government’s intent to grow and regenerate the economy in the south of Scotland.”
“Earlier this year, we brought together experts from the public and private sectors to create a new, dedicated partnership, in advance of the new enterprise agency, to drive forward that regeneration.
“The partnership has now identified four projects that are sure to bring long-term social and economic benefits to the area. Of course, these are major projects which will take time to be worked up and delivered.
“It’s great to see the South of Scotland Economic Partnership injecting fresh impetus into the area’s economy.
“I’m certain that, with the dedicated focus and expertise it provides, backed up by significant levels of Scottish Government funding, we will see a tangible strengthening of the economic environment in one of Scotland’s most important regions.”
Partnership chairman Russel Griggs added: “This funding announcement is exciting news and confirms our ambition and commitment to make the south the thriving economy we know it can be.
“There is a huge amount of work under way in the partnership to support and develop projects which will deliver long-term social and economic benefits. We will make further funding announcements shortly.
“Our recent engagement exercise, with 26 events and over 500 people attending, gave a valuable insight into what we require to do.
“Better opportunities for training and supporting communities were key priorities. The announcement of funding today demonstrates our commitment to address these priorities immediately.”