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SCDI announce national rural commission

A new national rural commission that will look at the challenges and opportunities faced by the economy in rural areas, is being launched by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) today.

This independent commission will run for up to two years and will support businesses and drive inclusive growth by considering the short, medium, and long-term actions that can be taken to enhance the economic performance in rural areas.

Membership of the commission is comprised of different sectors and geographies of Scotland. It will engage with, and hear from, the diverse range of businesses and organisations working across rural Scotland and will make recommendations to help support growth and employment. These will be published throughout the working life of the commission.

Chris Gaffney, Group Finance Director of Johnstons of Elgin, will Chair the SCDI Rural Commission.

Rural Commission Chair Chris Gaffney commented: “As a business with staff based across our bases in Elgin and Hawick we recognise the benefits of working in these areas of the country and the opportunities they present, but we also understand the challenges our employees face around access to transport, digital connectivity, and housing. We work hard to provide opportunities to upskill our workforce, but we know that access to labour can constrain our growth and that many businesses struggle to attract and retain the people they need to thrive.

“I welcome the establishment of the SCDI Rural Commission to look at how we deliver appropriate support and solutions and as Chair look forward to working with the other members of the commission to put forward actions to support sustainable economic growth throughout Scotland.”

SCDI’s Regional Director, Fraser Grieve, added: “There are many opportunities to drive further inclusive economic growth and to do so will require informed policy discussion and recommendations on a range of economic factors such as access to skilled labour, digital connectivity, housing, investment and transport.

“SCDI members have raised the importance of this work, which is reflective in their support in establishing this commission. I’m confident this group will come forward with solutions that could meet the short-term challenges, as well as present actions that can deliver long term results for those living and working across the country.”

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP, confirmed his support for the commission: “The launch of SCDI’s new Rural Commission is good news for Scotland’s rural economy, providing an independent voice for the promotion of best practice and innovation in policy.

“The commission is established at a time when communities and policy makers are envisaging a more diverse future for the rural economy. For example, the National Council of Rural Advisors – the Scottish Government’s independent rural advisory body – will be making some recommendations later this year, after consulting with rural stakeholders.”