Ayrshire Growth Deal newsletter issue 1 July 2021

AGD image - Manufacturing

Ayrshire Growth Deal 

Newsbite Issue 1

July 2021

Welcome to the first edition of our half yearly newsletter, designed to keep you up to date with progress and key milestones on our Ayrshire Growth Deal (AGD) journey. 

What is the AGD?

AGD is the first non City Region Deal in Scotland. With a financial commitment of £251.5 million, it is the largest ever public sector investment into Ayrshire.

Ayrshire has particular strengths in aerospace, engineering, life sciences, manufacturing and tourism. With the Growth Deal's targeted investment, these key sectors and strategic locations will act as a powerful catalyst, stimulating growth and boosting prosperity for local people, for Scotland and for the UK as a whole.

Our story so far...

AGD signing

Ayrshire Growth Deal signed and sealed

On 19 November 2020, the three Council Leaders: Councillors Douglas Reid; Joe Cullinane; and Peter Henderson, joined by Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP, and the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack MP signed the Ayrshire Growth Deal at a virtual event.

What the deal will do

With this £251.5 million investment, this deal will galvanise efforts to develop key strategic sites and key sectors in Ayrshire and aims to support up to 7,000 new jobs.

As the culmination of four years’ work by the councils, partner organisations and both governments, the funding will provide a host of development opportunities throughout the area and its economy.


A number of high value, strategic projects will be delivered throughout Ayrshire, with a focus on innovation, productivity and tackling inequality. 


The deal will create new business spaces, improve infrastructure and connectivity, and boost research and development ventures, while growing local talent and providing new opportunities and routes into employment for people throughout Ayrshire.

Partnership working

AGD is a partnership between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and East, North and South Ayrshire Councils.

It presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the economic prospects of the area and with confirmed funding now in place, work is getting underway.

UK Government funding compressed to 10 years

 The UK Government's budget presented in  March 2021  confirmed that the UK Government funding profile for AGD will be compressed to 10 years rather than the initial 15 years.

This was welcome news - it will enable us to progress our projects more rapidly, helping to support post COVID-19 recovery and renewal and kickstarting future development of the pan Ayrshire economy.

Community wealth building given £3m funding boost

Community Wealth Building will be the cornerstone of the Ayrshire Growth Deal as it develops over the coming months.

At a recent meeting of the Ayrshire Economic Joint Committee, all the partners signed off the Full Business Case for the Ayrshire Growth Deal Community Wealth Building Fund Project.

With £3 million of Scottish Government funding the project will:

  • employ new Community Wealth Building officers to help local businesses and community organisations deliver Community Wealth Building ambitions
  • set up a dedicated Fair Work Ayrshire team to work closely with Ayrshire Anchor Institutions and major employers to establish Ayrshire as a Fair Work region
  • set targets to make sure hundreds of Ayrshire businesses are supported over the next three years
  • recruit project staff to get the project underway

Working for a Healthy Economy 

This project seeks to improve the health and lifestyles of communities across Ayrshire.

At a  meeting of the Ayrshire Economic Joint Committee at the end of February, the Full Business Case for the ‘Working for a Healthy Economy’ project was approved and officially signed off by all partners. 


Before COVID -19, Ayrshire had almost 21,000 people claiming health related benefits.

Of the Job Seekers Allowance/Universal Credit claimant group of 10,785 pre COVID-19, up to a third were estimated to have health issues as a barrier to employment.

Even though these were not classified as severe enough for them to qualify for health-related benefits, health issues were clearly a significant barrier to economic activity and productivity for many people in Ayrshire.

The importance of public health and the need for a healthy and productive workforce has never been greater in these COVID-19 times.


The project recognises that doing more of what we did pre-pandemic will have little impact. Instead we will target large scale investment into occupational health services to make sure Ayrshire has the most able workforce possible to drive economic growth in the future.

Person centred

This project is unique as it offers a person centred and criteria free, single access point to provide focused health support across Ayrshire.

The contract for the project was awarded to NHS Salus in March this year. It currently takes referrals of unemployed residents of East, North and South Ayrshire.  By the autumn that provision should be extended to the whole Ayrshire business community.

Scottish Government will commit £5 million to the project.


Cumnock to become the green energy capital of Scotland!

Knockroon Estate, on the outskirts of Cumnock, has been unveiled as the location for a ground breaking, world-leading energy project which will revolutionise how renewable energy supplies are generated, stored and used by communities in the area.

The Community Renewable Energy project (CoRE) (formerly referred to as the National Energy Research Demonstrator Project) aims to work in partnership with the community of Cumnock and those within the villages surrounding so that they become fully carbon neutral in terms of their energy footprint. The CoRE project will do this by tackling all aspects of society - including residential living, business operations and the local transport network.

Our ambition for the Cumnock area and the wider Ayrshire region is to  become an exemplar for moving to a low carbon society by repurposing the area’s existing industrial and natural assets to create energy self-sufficient communities.

The project will develop a centre of excellence for clean growth research, harnessing existing and new renewable energy technologies (such as hydrogen, wind, solar, hydro, heat source pumps and geothermal heat) to provide solutions to the challenge of producing and storing a consistent, reliable renewable energy supply and create a new, more flexible energy grid.

CoRE will receive £17 million of investment from UK Government backed up by £7.5 million from East Ayrshire Council.


The HALO Enterprise and Innovation Hub (HEIC) has been constructed on the former Johnnie Walker site in Kilmarnock.  

Morrison Construction handed over the Innovation Hub to HALO on 1 May 2021.

Agents are now marketing the dynamic commercial, educational and advanced training hub and have received a number of positive enquiries.

The state-of-the-art HEIC in Kilmarnock is set to open its doors in autumn 2021, with first tenants expected in September 2021. With a vision for a dynamic commercial, educational, cultural, leisure and lifestyle quarter where people can ‘Live, Work, Learn and Play’, the HALO will provide a sustainable community approach to a mixed-use development powered by electricity with a low carbon footprint.

HALO july 21

The HALO project has received £3.5 million of investment from the UK Government, £3.5 million from the Scottish Government and £2 million from East Ayrshire Council.

The Great Harbour

Great Harbour

Ambitious plans to transform Irvine Harbourside into a major Scottish visitor destination are poised to move forward. 

Proposals to breathe new life into the Great Harbour  and beach park areas are designed to entice new visitors to the area. 

Although still in the early stage of development, the plans aim to create a ‘Maritime Mile’, from Irvine train station to the beach park. This will re-invigorate the area by creating a unique coastal experience for visitors, opening up access to the waterfront setting and revitalising the harbour. 

On 25 June, the Scottish Government formally approved the Outline Business Case allowing the project to move to Full Business Case.

This project is supported by funding of £9 million from the Scottish Government and £5 million from North Ayrshire Council.

digi lab AGD

i3 Digital Processing Manufacturing Centre and Flexible Business Space

A new Digital Processing Manufacturing Centre (DPMC) at i3, Irvine Enterprise Area is another key AGD project. The investment will create a Centre of Excellence for digital automation with approximately 8,830 square metres of flexible advanced manufacturing space serving digital process industries. 

On 25 June, the Scottish Government formally approved the Outline Business Case for the Flexible Space element allowing the project to move to Full Business Case.

I3 Digital Processing Manufacturing Centre and Flexible Business Space will receive £5 million of investment from the UK Government, £11 million from Scottish Government and £5 million from North Ayrshire Council.

Decarbonising the Deal

The AGD Programme Management Office and project teams are working with Scottish Government to ensure the AGD is aligned with Scotland’s transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2045. 

Together with other City Region Growth Deals in Scotland, the Scottish Government is developing a carbon management structure for the AGD, which will assess and then minimise the carbon emissions impact of the programme and projects.

Net Zero transition

Once carbon baselines have been established, consideration will be given to what can be done to make sure all AGD projects move towards a net zero transition. Thereafter, a carbon management process appropriate for each project will be put in place to reduce any carbon emissions.

This will not only ensure that all AGD projects are consistent with Scotland’s response to the climate emergency, it will also stimulate low-carbon innovation, accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

Food and Drink

Woody ice cream AGD

The Ayrshire Growth Deal recognises our regional assets and sectoral strengths, including Food and Drink, which has the potential to be one of Ayrshire’s most valuable sectors, recognised locally and internationally as a leader in sustainable, responsible and profitable growth of authentic local produce.

A Food and Drink recovery group has been established and  meets regularly, with representatives from:

  • East, North and South Ayrshire Councils
  • Taste of Arran
  • Arran’s Food Journey
  • Ayrshire Food Network

The group aims to support the recovery of Ayrshire businesses and supply chains from the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

The Ayrshire Manufacturing Investment Corridor project (AMIC) - as part of AGD - also focuses on the food and drink sector.

On Friday 9 July AMIC organised a Food and Trends webinar for food and drink businesses in Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway.

Delivered in partnership with SAC Consulting  the webinar was well attended with positive feedback: 

“Extremely pleased this excellent resource is being made available at such a local level.”

This was the first of a series of webinars being planned to provide assistance to the food and drink sector in the South West of Scotland.

Next steps

The AMIC project team will roll out phase 1 of a full support  programme throughout 2021/2022 ahead of the construction of the AMIC Centre.

AMIC will receive £10 million of investment from the UK Government and £13.5 million from the Scottish Government.

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Looking ahead, we will continue to gain approval of business cases to get our projects started.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of targeted investment and support for our key sectors. We'll be closely monitoring the economic landscape making sure AGD is fully responsive to future impacts, challenges and opportunities.

Our next newsletter will bring news of our other projects as they develop further.

Keeping in touch

We launched our AGD website  on 26 February 2021 to promote the Deal, our projects and our ambitions for the region.

Follow us on the  AGD Twitter  account to keep up to date with our latest news.

Contact us




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