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Briefing will call for priorities

Businesses urged to back £1bn City Region deal

digital economyBusiness will be urged next week to provide up to £3.2 billion to support a bid by six local authorities in the east of Scotland for a £1bn government fund for the local economy.

A long term vision for the so-called City Region – Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian – will be outlined to business leaders at a briefing at the EICC on Monday.

Councillors and council leaders will ask businesses to identify their priorities in helping to grow the economy. The councils have highlighted skills and productivity and building on the region’s strengths in knowledge, culture and technology.

At stake is a huge investment from the UK government deal and the joint bid from the council has only until the first week of September to put together a submission. Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce which of a number of bids have been successful in his Autumn Statement.

Monday’s briefing follows a similar event held earlier this month with the region’s universities which pledged their support.

Speaking at a media briefing on behalf of the consortium, Edinburgh council leader Andrew Burns said: “We have significant wealth in Edinburgh and significant pockets of deprivation. We have significant challenges and problems to overcome.

“Work is gathering pace on our proposal and we are all collaborating closely on our submission.

“Monday’s event is extremely important as we are keen to garner the support of the business community and for them to be part of this exciting process. It is important that we align our ambitions with theirs in order to deliver step-change in the economic performance of our city region.

“In shaping this deal, we want to build on our strengths, whilst tackling persistent inequality and other constraints that threaten to hold the region back. I am very conscious that as visitors flock into Edinburgh for the summer festivals, for example, we must act to secure the investment required to embrace and build on our cultural success, and put culture centre stage in our growth plans.”

Edinburgh’s new chief executive Andrew Kerr said: “This is about accelerating we already have and making stronger what is already strong.”

Assuming a positive response from ministers, detailed work on prioritising potential investment would continue in partnership with representatives from both governments.

Further information: from 17 August. The hashtag is #acceleratinggrowth

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