The strength and diversity of the Falkirk area’s economy was discussed and www.investfalkirk.com , a new inward investment website, to promote the Falkirk area for investment was launched at the Business Falkirk Annual Conference today (Friday 4th November) sponsored by INEOS O & P UK.
Mary Pitcaithly, Chief Executive of Falkirk Council discussed the support available to businesses through Business Gateway and also the difficult environment Falkirk Council is operating in. Over £100 million has been saved from its overall budget over the last 10 years and the council must find a further £20 million for next year. Businesses were encouraged to participate in the consultation process and feedback to the Council their thoughts on the proposed cuts and detail the services they value the most.
The level of investment being made in Grangemouth, the most significant of recent times was outlined by John McNally, CEO INEOS Olefins and Polymers UK: “Our recent investment into the chemicals’ business is already in excess of £450m and demonstrates our long term commitment to the Grangemouth site and to the local economy, local businesses and communities that both contribute and benefit from our operations. We are working hard to ensure a sustainable future at Grangemouth. Our new business HQ and ethane supply project are testament to that commitment as is our clearing of old and outdated equipment and buildings that will pave the way for new investment. “
The prospects for growth in the chemicals sector were reinforced by Julia Brown, Head of Scottish Enterprise Life Sciences & Chemicals division.
Steve Dunlop Chief Executive of Scottish Canals spoke about having the confidence to take key projects forward such as the Kelpies, the Helix Park and the Falkirk Wheel in the face of economic challenges and how these have now become global assets. He mentioned that Scottish Canals will continue to invest in the Falkirk area at The Falkirk Wheel and at sites such as Tamfourhill and Rosebank Distillery. Malcolm Roughead CEO of VisitScotland also highlighted the importance of tourism to the local economy which now employs over 3,800 people in the Falkirk area and generates £51.9m and urged any tourism business in the Falkirk area to sign up to visitscotland.com
The impact of Brexit was discussed by David Bell, Professor of Economics at Stirling University with immediate shocks limited so far to the weakening Pound which may see inflation rising above Bank of England targets but that longer term impacts will only start to become clear as UK/EU negotiating positions are set out.
This year’s event was hosted by Jill Buchanan Editor of the Falkirk Herald and was attended by 120 people from businesses across the Falkirk area.
Depute Leader of the Council, Baillie Joan Paterson said “Falkirk Council’s Baillie Joan Paterson said “Falkirk has come so far over the last ten years and we are on the cusp of something very significant for Falkirk and its communities - we can make our area a prime international location for chemical sciences, for new energy and for tourism. We are asking Government for the support and resources to make that happen and need the support of our entire business community to achieve it”.
Speakers at the Business Falkirk Annual Conference included
- Jill Buchanan, Editor, Falkirk Herald
- Mary Pitcaithly, Chief Executive, Falkirk Council
- Julia Brown, Senior Director, Life and Chemical Science Scottish Enterprise
- Professor David Bell, Professor of Economics, Stirling University
- Delia Henry, Forth Valley Sensory Centre
- John McNally CEO, INEOS O & P UK
- Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive Scottish Canals
- Malcolm Roughead, OBE Chief Executive Visit Scotland
- Baillie Joan Paterson, Depute Leader, Falkirk Council