Tayside and Fife leaders have been challenged to create jobs “sooner rather than later” as the ink dried on the £700 million Tay Cities Region Deal.
Leaders from across the political spectrum signed the deal on Thursday, explaining how the landmark agreement will create 6,000 jobs and improve the region’s underperforming economy.
Dundee West MP Chris Law, SNP, said the deal – which comes two years after an initial agreement was reached – had been a “long time coming”.
“I am relieved that the deal has finally been signed and projects can now get to work on making the Tay Cities Deal’s promising outcomes a reality,” he said.
Labour councillor Richard McCready said: “I have been critical in the past of the length of time that the deal has taken to get to this stage, I stand by that criticism but now is the time to deliver.
“As a member of the Tay Cities Region Joint Committee I expect the focus to be on the delivery of jobs in the region from now on.
“I want to see this deal working – creating jobs sooner rather than later.”
The UK and Scottish governments have together pledged £300m, unlocking another further £400m from various business, public sector and educational organisations.
Key commitments among 26 funded projects include £62m for plant research at the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie, £25m for life sciences projects in Dundee, £26.5m for St Andrews University’s sustainable energy plant in Guardbridge, and a £26.5m fund to support “mercury” Mercury programme projects in Angus.
Scottish Government infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson said the deals are designed to build on specific regional strengths.
He said: “Now that we’ve signed the deal and agreed on the projects, it’s now important that local partners move into the delivery phase.
“They will develop the business case for each of the projects they have agreed to take forward and explain how they will take these projects into delivery. That is where we are now at.”
Professor Nigel Seaton, principal of Abertay University and chairman of the Tay Cities Region Deal Higher and Further Education Forum, laid out the size of the task ahead as projects start to draw down on the funding.
He said: “Our region faces a number of challenges.
“Its performance is below the Scottish average in several areas, including productivity, employment growth and wage levels and it has pockets of entrenched unemployment.
“With an economy growing more slowly than the Scottish economy as a whole more needs to be done to reverse these trends.
“The deal will support business growth, develop innovative technologies, enhance productivity, enhance skills and create jobs.”