Conference hears of growth in Falkirk economy

Falkirk chief executive Mary Pitcaithly speaking at the fifth annual business panel conference
Falkirk chief executive Mary Pitcaithly speaking at the fifth annual business panel conference

The number of local businesses has increased, despite the recession.

New figures announced at this year’s Business Panel conference also revealed that employment is on the up.

Mary Pitcaithly, Falkirk Council chief executive, said the annual figures showed a 150 rise in the number of businesses to 3780, with emp­loy­ment rising by 4000.

A record number attended the conference, titled ‘Growth and Investment – the Road Ahead for Falkirk’, at Airth Castle Hotel last Friday. It featured speakers from the public sector, business and academic worlds, sharing local success stories, economic recovery next steps, growth opportunities and business stimulation ideas.

Hosted by BBC Scotland presenter Bill Whiteford and organised by Falkirk Council’s growth and investment unit, over 170 business delegates heard Professor Russel Griggs outline how better regulation can stimulate growth, while Susan Love, the Federation of Small Businesses policy manager, discussed the role local authorities need to take to support economic recovery.

Colin Mason, University of Glasgow’s Professor of Entrepreneurship, shared research into the main factors in business growth, put into context by successful business leaders and local employers.

David Turner, chief executive of HEROtsc and Gordon Allan, director of butchery business Malcolm Allan Ltd, shared their stories on making their businesses successful against adversity and tough competition.

Partnership working between the council and business community was a key message at the conference, with Mrs Pitcaithly highlighting the local authority’s commitment to a more integrated approach to serving business needs, highlighting the range of support services available through its growth and investment unit.

Mrs Pitcaithly also updated delegates on ambitions to kickstart a total infrastructure programme for the Falkirk area worth £164 million from next spring, when £52 million worth of investment from the Scottish Government is due to be invested through the Tax Incremental Finance scheme.

Councillor Dennis Goldie, convenor of economic strategy and development, said: “This year’s Business Panel conference aimed to provide local business people with an insight into what is being done to stimulate growth both locally and nationally and give them inspiration to continue to succeed in the current economic climate.”