An investment deal worth up to £452m for the regions on either side of the Scottish border is due to be signed at a virtual ceremony on Thursday.
The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal includes investment from the UK and Scottish governments, with the aim of delivering up to 5500 jobs across Carlisle, Cumbria and Northumberland in England, and in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.
Representatives of the five councils, as well as members of the two governments, will formally sign the deal on Thursday morning.
It will be the first cross-border growth deal and will cover the largest geographical area of any regional agreement so far.
The deal is focused on four themes of improving places; enabling infrastructure; encouraging green growth and supporting business, innovation and skills, with an agreed set of projects for each area.
The Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, Michael Matheson, said: “I am pleased to be signing the Borderlands Growth Deal, confirming that the Scottish Government will invest £85 million in the region over the next 10 years that will build strategically on the region’s natural assets, resources and entrepreneurial spirit to drive sustainable economic growth.
“Projects the Scottish Government is supporting through the deal will focus on reinvigorating town centres, expanding business sites and premises to stimulate business growth and job creation, maximising the region’s appeal as a leading outdoor and adventure tourism destination and equipping people with the skills they need to forge successful careers and contribute to their communities.
“The deal is focused on local people and local priorities, enabling the Borderlands area to create sustainable jobs, re-invigorate the economy, and build strategically for long term growth and prosperity.”
The UK Government’s cecretary of ctate for housing, communities and local government, Robert Jenrick, said: “The Borderlands Growth Deal will realise a new era of regeneration and opportunity as we build back better from the pandemic.
“The Ad Gefrin Visitor Experience and Distillery, and the Carlisle Station regeneration project are just two examples of schemes already benefitting from the deal which will create jobs and improve regional connectivity.
“We’re levelling up across the UK by investing in jobs, driving economic growth, and strengthening our cross-border links.”
Scotland minister Iain Stewart added: “The benefits of the UK Government’s £265 million investment in the deal will be felt by communities across the whole of the Borderlands region and beyond.
“Exciting projects like the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre and a Dairy Innovation Centre in Dumfries – Dairy Nexus – will build on regional strengths to create jobs and prosperity, while improvements to digital and transport infrastructure will ensure that we build back better from the pandemic.
“Across Scotland, we have committed more than £1.5bn to City Region and Growth Deals.”
The Borderlands Partnership is made up of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council.
Councillor John Mallinson, leader of Carlisle City Council and co-chairman of the partnership, said: “It’s fantastic to announce the signing of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal bringing fresh investment from Government of up to £350m to our region, alongside local contributions of over £100m.
“The deal is an ambitious approach to cross-border working between governments, local authorities and other partners which will boost economic growth by helping existing business, encouraging new ventures and bringing a wealth of improvements to our region.
“The deal will also provide crucial support to our region’s recovery from the Covid-19 emergency and ensure we set in place strong foundations on which to build back better and greener, delivering inclusive and sustainable growth.”
Councillor Mark Rowley, from the Scottish Borders Council and the other co-chairman, added: “The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will have a transformational impact on the whole region, with the aim of creating 5,500 jobs, bringing in over four million extra tourists and improving mobile and digital connections thanks to the funding from the two governments and the additional investment the deal will attract.
“The unlocking of investment in our towns will generate a predicted £1.1bn uplift in the region’s Gross Value Added (GVA) and the partners will be able to deliver individually and collectively a range of projects which will not only improve the area for existing residents but also encourage more to move here, which will help address some of the common challenges we face.”