SCOTLAND’S First Minister dropped in to Monifieth this week to discuss the importance of a strong relationship between government and small business.
Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP, was in town on Tuesday afternoon and gave a few of his thoughts on important local issues.
Looking at the recently revamped Monifieth town centre and considering the growth of shopping options in Carnoustie, Mr Salmond said he believed this revitalisation had been helped by Scottish Government projects.
He said: “Well I think one of the successes of the last two years has been the introduction of the small business grant.
“Angus has one of the largest take-ons of this, about 2,000. In comparison, Glasgow has 8,000, Angus is a quarter of that.
“To date £9.7 million has been given out in Angus. There have been 2,125 recipients of small business grants as of September, 2011. That’s a pretty good performance.
“This shows that there is money for people in these schemes. It has been an exciting project.”
The Guide & Gazette asked Mr Salmond if the kind of community endorsement of growing local economies found in places like Monifieth, Carnoustie and Broughty Ferry was a good sign.
He said: “This applies right across the community. I think small towns perhaps seem to benefit the most from business grants.
“It represents an absolutely fantastic opportunity to get businesses into these small towns.”
However, the First Minister is adamant that there remains a lot to be done. He said: “What we’re looking for is to work in partnership with local councils and take this on into the next five years.
“A lot of things have been done but a lot more can still be done. We’re particularly interested in creative ideas.”
Asked what else the SNP-led government could do to help the local economy the First Minister pointed out the SNP’s adoption of the Living Wage scheme earlier this year.
This will mean that up to 20,000 low paid NHS and council workers will see a wage rise under SNP administration, and if the SNP retain power in Angus this would have a knock-on economic effect.
He said: “We plan to introduce a Living Wage for staff of £7.20, which will also help keep money in the local economy.”
Mr Salmond was generally pleased with how local businesses had responded to government stimulus packages.
He said: “Angus has taken advantage of a number of our schemes in the last year or two and we will continue to do that by looking to carry forward initiatives to help with regeneration. In many things Angus has been a leader in many initiatives on a local level and we need to continue that.”