Renfrewshire’s business and education leaders have joined forces to work together to drive the region’s future economic success at the first meeting of Renfrewshire’s Economic Leadership Panel.

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The 18-member panel has been drawn from across the private and public sector along with representatives from further and higher education and national agencies.

It includes businesses such as Malcolm Group, Scottish Leather Group, Hewlett Packard and Diageo.

Together, the panel will work together to develop a long-term economic strategy for Renfrewshire from 2018-2035.

Audrey Cumberford, Principal and Chief Executive of West College Scotland chaired the opening panel meeting which was hosted by University of the West of Scotland.

Panel members considered Renfrewshire’s current economic position which showed Renfrewshire is home to the second highest percentage of people in employment with an academic degree or professional qualification.

The area has also seen the biggest jobs growth in Scotland for young people four years in a row, lifting Renfrewshire from 27th for youth employment to fourth in Scotland.

More than 90 percent of companies in Renfrewshire are micro-businesses, while the area is also home to major employers including Glasgow Airport and Intu Braehead.

The panel considered the key issues facing Renfrewshire such as the low population growth forecast over the next 20 years, and received a detailed presentation on the Brexit implications for Renfrewshire.

Audrey Cumberford, Principal and Chief Executive of West College Scotland and Chair of the Renfrewshire Economic Leadership Panel said: “We all share a commitment to Renfrewshire and its long term economic success and despite a number of challenges, there is exciting potential for the area now and in the future. We want to send a clear message that Renfrewshire is open for business and is an attractive place to live, work and invest in.

“This is the first time such a panel has been brought together and it is up to us to ensure the business community and those responsible for knowledge and skills development are working closely together, putting Renfrewshire’s economic development at the heart of our work.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Renfrewshire is home to a fantastic range of businesses big and small, all making a vital contribution to the local, national and international economy.

“The Renfrewshire Strategic Economic Framework highlighted the importance of strong engagement with the private sector and educational partners to drive forward local economic development and set out the establishment of the Renfrewshire Economic Leadership Panel as a strategic priority.

“I’m very pleased to see the panel start its work today. Its members and the organisations they represent will play a hugely important role in accelerating the economic fortunes of Renfrewshire and supporting us to make Renfrewshire an attractive place to live, work and visit.”

The panel will meet four times a year and the draft economic strategy is scheduled for next summer.