It’s only a matter of months since the news that Homebase was to close its Hawick store left the future looking bleak for the town’s Galalaw, but business is now booming there once again.
Not only has Home Bargains taken over the do-it-yourself shop, closed in December, and announced plans to invest £5m in revamping it, creating 50 jobs, but four new units at nearby Galalaw Business Park have been completed and three of them are already occupied.
The £830,000-plus units were officially opened on Tuesday by the Scottish Government’s minister for business, fair work and skills, Jamie Hepburn.
The units were built by Scottish Borders Council following the Scottish Government’s announcement of a £3.6m funding package for Hawick from its local economic development capital grant fund in September 2016.
That followed the development of a Hawick action plan by a partnership including the council, Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and businesses in the town in response to the job losses caused by a series of textile mill closures.
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth MSP Mr Hepburn said: “It is great to see local businesses benefiting from the newly created units at Galalaw Business Park, enabling them to expand and flourish.
“I am delighted that the Scottish Government has been able to provide £3.6m to support this development and other business infrastructure projects in Hawick as part of our commitment to the Hawick action plan.
“Enhancing the economy of the south of Scotland is a priority for the Scottish Government, and we are taking forward a range of activities to facilitate that.
“We are delivering investment of up to £85m in the region through the Borderlands inclusive growth deal and working to establish an enterprise agency for the south of Scotland.
“This is an exciting time for economic development in the south of Scotland, and the Scottish Government is committed to developing the region to its full potential.”
Designed by the council’s in-house architects’ section and built by Earlston contractor Rodger Builders, the single industrial building at Galalaw is divided into four units but is flexible, enabling businesses to expand into adjacent units if required and if space is available.
An interior and flooring contractor, plumbing and heating business and energy-efficient window, door and conservatory company have moved in so far.
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall welcomed Tuesday’s opening ceremony, saying: “It’s great news that these new business units are now officially open, and this much-welcomed news will certainly give the town a boost, especially at a time when we have recently lost around 20 jobs with the announcement of the closure of the Hawick Knitwear factory.
“This investment at Galalaw is designed to target new business and also support expansion of existing ones in the town, and I’m led to believe that the project did come in under budget.
“I am now eagerly awaiting news soon that the Home Bargains chain will be opening its doors too at this now-thriving business park, and once opened it will, I’m sure, give a significant jobs boost to the area.”
Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, the council’s executive member for business and economic development, added: “These business units have provided the opportunity for three existing local businesses to take the opportunity to move to new, larger premises with better access and facilities.
“This will enable them to grow and take on more staff, and I am delighted that these new units have had such an impact already.
“A total of 21 inquiries have been received about the units to date, which is strong evidence of the need for this type of infrastructure and a desire among firms to expand and develop in Hawick.”
“Our aim with the projects progressed in partnership with the Scottish Government was to help create new jobs, encourage new businesses into Hawick and generally act as a catalyst for more inward investment and property redevelopment and regeneration in the town. All of this will have a very positive impact on the town’s economy and that of the wider region.
“Alongside these projects, we have also developed the centre of excellence in textiles, which benefited from funding from the Scottish Government through the south of Scotland economic partnership and just last week received confirmation of our successful bid for a Hawick conservation area regeneration scheme.”