Planetarium and activity centre created in economic regeneration plan.
Funding for skills and economic development across the South of Scotland has been announced by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.
Through the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP), the former Johnston school building in Kirkcudbright, which is currently lying empty, will be transformed into a Dark Skies Visitor Centre and Planetarium.
The building will also include a child care facility, a youth activity centre and commercial premises for local business start-ups – as a result of £300,000 investment from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership. Meanwhile a new training programme for community leaders in the South of Scotland will drive tourism projects across the area with £30,000 of SOSEP funding
A further £60,000 will see key buildings in Hawick’s historic town centre restored as part of a wider plan to reinvigorate the area and encourage more visitors to the town.
Mr Ewing announced the funding while visiting the newly established Centre of Excellence in Textiles at Hawick High School, which has benefited from £610,000 of Scottish Government funding through SOSEP.
Mr Ewing said:
“The Scottish Government is committed to developing the South of Scotland’s economy to its full potential. These investments will boost tourism, create jobs, support existing businesses and act as catalysts for wider regional regeneration.
“The funding is part of a wider package of measures being supported by the Scottish Government through the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP), which aims to improve access to skills & training, support entrepreneurship and town centre regeneration and develop tourism opportunities across the South of Scotland.”
“The work of SOSEP, the establishment of a new enterprise body for the region and the £85 million we are investing in the Borderlands inclusive Growth Deal underline our commitment to continuing to deliver for the South of Scotland and its people.”
Professor Russel Griggs said:
“This latest funding announcement is exciting news for the South of Scotland and highlights some further examples of the work underway to support and develop projects which will deliver long-term social and economic benefits to communities in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway.
“We need to be ambitious about our area to ensure we fulfil our potential and through the South of Scotland Economic Partnership we are able to invest in and develop those opportunities that will provide the impetus to make the south of Scotland the thriving economy we know it can be.”
The projects will help local communities to capitalise on business opportunities offered by the region’s growing popularity as a tourist destination, as part of a broader Scottish Government strategy to reinvigorate the South of Scotland’s economy and were recommended for support by the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP).