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'Big day for Moray' as £100m Growth Deal signed

By Lorna Thompson

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INVESTMENT of more than £100 million to drive innovation and growth in Moray was endorsed today with the official signing of the Moray Growth Deal.

Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter, UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart and Scottish Government Economy Secretary Kate Forbes took part in the virtual signing this afternoon five years since the deal's inception.

The milestone moment was streamed live this afternoon via a council webcast.

The deal brings together the Scottish and UK governments, Moray Council, partners from across the public and third sector, and businesses.

The combined investment over the next decade will see up to £32.5 million pledged from the Scottish and UK governments respectively, with regional partners contributing up to £35.8 million.

Investment projects over the next decade include a world-class Moray Aerospace, Advanced Technology and Innovation Campus (MAATIC); a Manufacturing Innovation Centre for Moray (MICM); a Business Enterprise Hub; support for the delivery of 300 affordable homes in Moray towns; a Cultural Quarter in Elgin incorporating the refurbishment of Grant Lodge and Elgin Town Hall; a low-carbon, on-demand bus service; specialist facilities and learning environments for STEM; and a centre for research and innovation in digital health.

It is estimated that more than 3500 jobs will be created directly or indirectly by the deal.

Mr Leadbitter said the projects would benefit every community in Moray.

He said: "The signing of the Moray Growth Deal marks the culmination of a huge amount of work by the council, our local public and private sector partners, alongside the Scottish and UK governments.

"The work done to get to this stage should not be underestimated and has put the meat on the bones of £100 million worth of innovation projects for Moray.

"The leadership of the individual projects by the council, Moray College UHI, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Scotland's National Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre has required significant investment of time, energy and early finance to develop them to this stage. This has been underpinned by cross-party and cross-governmental support providing the necessary confidence to drive the overall deal forwards.

"Moving forwards the Digital Health project is already under way, land and building acquisition is being pursued in other projects, new electric buses are on order for the Bus Revolution project and designs are moving to an advanced stage."

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart (left), Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter, and Scottish Government Economy Secretary Kate Forbes during the virtual signing of the Moray Growth Deal.
UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart (left), Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter, and Scottish Government Economy Secretary Kate Forbes during the virtual signing of the Moray Growth Deal.

Rhona Gunn, council depute chief executive (economy, environment and finance) described the signing as a big day for Moray.

She said: "Now the deal has been signed we look forward to stepping up our engagement with our local communities. We have some great opportunities for people to get involved as we continue to develop our projects into full business cases and move into delivery.

"Those opportunities will include involving schoolchildren in the redesign of Cooper Park; seeking views from our students on the MAATIC project; and speaking to our local communities about their transport needs to help us further develop the Bus Revolution project."

Mr Stewart said the investment would be "truly transformational, supporting the area, its people and businesses to reach their full potential".

He added: "Projects including a world-class aerospace campus, manufacturing innovation centre and digital health centre will help turn Moray into a hub for engineering, research and development, fuelling the regional economy and creating high-quality jobs. The development of a Cultural Quarter in Elgin will also support economic growth while proudly showcasing the area's unique heritage and culture.

"The UK Government's £32.5 million support for the deal is part of £1.7 billion we are investing right across Scotland to level up communities and build back better from the pandemic."

Ms Forbes said: "Projects supported with Scottish Government investment will improve access to sustainable transport, deliver affordable housing, grow the region's visitor economy, support business growth – including cutting-edge innovation in manufacturing – and develop the pipeline of future talent in technology and engineering needed to support key industry sectors.

"The deal is about investing in local people, local projects and local priorities with our partners to create opportunities for all, and I am delighted we have reached this milestone today."

Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross said the deal was fantastic news for Moray.

He added: "The growth deal represents a huge investment in our area and in its people, and it is great to see both the Scottish and UK governments working together to make the deal possible.

"This vital investment will make a great difference as we come back from the effects of the pandemic and I'm grateful to everyone who has made this latest stage, and significant, stage in the Moray Growth Deal possible."

Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said: "The Moray Growth Deal has been a long time in the making and to have it signed by the Scottish and UK governments is a big milestone for the project.

"We're in a period of economic transformation in Scotland as we look to move to net zero and the projects that make up the Moray Growth Deal will play a key role in making sure our local economy grows sustainably, delivering jobs for the future.

"I'm looking forward to see these exciting projects delivered on the ground."

The Full Deal document is now available on the MyMoray website.

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