New forum for Argyll business chiefs

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A new business forum set up in the wake of coronavirus has held its first virtual meeting.

Argyll Economic Resilience Forum includes representatives from business, tourism, manufacturing, farming and aquaculture.

Public sector members include Argyll and Bute Council, Business Gateway, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Skills Development Scotland, Visit Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.

The meeting has provided an update on the challenges faced and how sectors are responding across Argyll, said an HIE spokesman.

Morag Goodfellow, Argyll and the Islands area manager with HIE, chaired the meeting.

She said that with a fast-moving issue such as the coronavirus, it was vital to share information and feedback.

‘This new forum will meet fortnightly and focus on the particular situation in Argyll,’ she said.

‘It will be a valuable sounding board to assist the public sector’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including any future recovery plan.’

Iain Jurgensen, chairman of Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative, which represents around 1,200 businesses, is a member of the new forum.

He said: ‘I am pleased to be involved and welcome AITC’s involvement as the pan-Argyll tourism industry voice being integral to this new forum.

‘My aim is to ensure the unprecedented challenges facing the tourism industry are kept at the strategic forefront given its vital importance to Argyll’s people and economy – more so than any other region in Scotland.

‘As we look to develop a road map to safely navigate a way forward, collaboration and partnership will be critical.’

Councillor Aileen Morton, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said collaboration between the public and private sector would be vital.

Lucy Sumsion, NFU Scotland regional manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: ‘Agriculture is one of the major land uses in Argyll and Bute and farmers and crofters are vital in ensuring food production continues here.

‘We welcome the formation of this group and the opportunity to share information and expertise to ensure the economic recovery of the region.’