I WAS pleased to read in the Tele about the rapid completion of the Ardgowan Distillery site at Inverkip. Their CEO Martin McAdam has anticipated that 50 jobs will be created once works are completed and projected that 50,000 visitors would be attracted to the area. I was impressed on my site visit there by the enthusiasm for growing our whisky industry and job creation. The Tele’s article with Mr McAdam reminds us of the need to attract new businesses.

Over the past few years, we have become all too accustomed with stories of big firms closing branches in Inverclyde and relocating jobs to Glasgow or Edinburgh. The closures of IBM, Amazon and pending closure of the EE call centre in Greenock all have a particularly damaging effect on the town’s economy. They all should serve as a wake-up call for all levels of government to better help local small and medium-sized businesses spring up and thrive across our high streets.

This is not to say that Inverclyde’s enterprising spirit has completely vanished – far from it. Greenock-based PG Paper has recently been recognised by the UK Government’s Department for Business and Trade for their achievements in exporting paper and board products to more than 60 countries. Three Greenock restaurants have also won prizes in the Scottish Restaurant Awards, showing that our local businesses can offer exceptional services and products on par with their counterparts in Scotland’s big cities.

There is no reason why Inverclyde cannot attract more entrepreneurs and new businesses. Our town has roots in entrepreneurialism and invention. With the summer season fast approaching, the Ocean Terminal at Greenock will be flooded with tourists stopping off and seeing what we have to offer. It is easy to imagine a rejuvenated waterfront, vibrant town centres and many unique visitor attractions across Greenock’s neighbouring towns enticing visitors to explore Inverclyde.  Instead they bus people out of town to other attractions. This tells me that a root and branch strategy is sorely needed to attract new investors and oversee consistent, long-term growth throughout the area.

With the right support from the Scottish Government, I believe that Inverclyde can truly leverage its strengths to attract opportunity, trade and growth. But we should never underestimate the importance of the individual entrepreneur and businessperson. They are the beating heart of the economy and it is them we ought to support and praise more often.