South of Scotland Enterprise’s first ever annual report and accounts have highlighted the agency’s significant efforts to support the region to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in its first year.
The economic and community development agency approved funding totalling around £28million to more than 620 businesses, organisations and community groups during 2020/2021.
This included over £14.6m approved to more than 450 South of Scotland businesses and organisations through administration of a range of Scottish Government COVID-19 funds.
SOSE also created and administered a number of its own funds to support businesses, communities and other projects in the South of Scotland, which added up to around £11.7m to more than 170 organisations.
In addition, £1.6m was directed towards partnerships, programmes and projects that were not directly related to COVID-19. This included key activities inherited from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP), and other strategic investments to build the future potential of the region, such as the establishment of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance.
This overall support enabled 88 businesses to continue to operate through COVID-19 and helped safeguard 3,700 jobs.
In addition, SOSE supported 63 businesses to adapt and diversify operations to position themselves for recovery upon restrictions being lifted and trading starting to return to normal.
Other figures included assisting over 700 business and community clients through providing one to one, tailored advice and support.
The annual report and accounts aim to reflect the scale and depth of work that has been undertaken by SOSE since its formation on 1 April 2020.
SOSE Chief Executive Jane Morrison-Ross said:
“To provide financial support to over 620 organisations and provide support to over 700 businesses and community groups in the first year of operation – and during one of the most significant challenges ever faced – is a phenomenal achievement.
“In the face of COVID-19, we believe our annual accounts and report show we delivered real value to the communities and businesses in the South.
“We are now seeing some positive signs of recovery from the pandemic and we firmly believe that we can look towards a positive future through supporting our full eco-system.
“This includes supporting our region’s just transition to NetZero, enabling entrepreneurship, encouraging innovation, rolling out Fair Work, supporting our young people and creating jobs to attracting businesses to set up here.”
Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of SOSE, added:
“SOSE’s first year is one which no-one could ever have predicted.
“The challenges brought by COVID-19 meant we have had to balance focusing our resources to help those in need, while making sure we do not lose sight of the future.
Our first annual report and accounts is a significant moment for SOSE and gives an insight into our work, which I believe reflects our vision to establish the South of Scotland as the centre of opportunity, innovation and growth.”
SOSE’s first annual report and accounts – which were laid in the Scottish Parliament this week – are available at www.southofscotlandenterprise.com/annual-accounts.
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