Rachael Hamilton is Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire

After another busy week in Holyrood, and another round of surgeries completed, my attention has turned to the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency that is soon to be created.

The new agency will be a fantastic catalyst for entrepreneurialism and driving the local economy. However, it is crucial we get it right. We need to see the Scottish Government actively engage with businesses, small and large, to ensure that we have everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.

Scottish Enterprise has done a reasonable job to date, but many small to medium sized businesses have found access to funding complicated and this must be addressed going forward. We should remove barriers to achieve accessible funding, and I would like to see an agency, which makes obtaining support a lot simpler.

The agency should be an enabler, not a disabler, first. It must be dynamic and suit the needs of the South of Scotland. Whilst we have heard many saying it will be based on the model of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, it is important we recognise that our area is distinctive, and different to the Highlands.

Whilst I recognise it will not solve all of our problems, it will go some way to helping mend them. For years, we have seen low wage and low hours jobs, a gender pay gap and a skills shortage. These three issues are not unique to the Borders, but are definitely exacerbated in a rural area with poor connectivity, both physically and digitally.

Better broadband provision is something, which I have campaigned long and hard for. We can only realise the potential of the Borders when we get broadband speeds up particularly in rural parts.

We need to see the agency, not only providing grants to businesses, but also creating high quality jobs. These jobs will not only attract young people, but also, crucially, retain them. I hope it also enables young people to create new start-up businesses, and really drive a vibrant and dynamic local economy.

People who feel left behind must be given opportunities to become part of the success story that I hope materialises from the injection of new investment as a spin off from the new agency’s work.

I think it is vital we grasp the bull by the horns, put the hard bits to the top, grasp this great opportunity and ensure we get it right for the Borders. If you’re interested in having a say in how SoSEP works get in touch. Rachael.hamilton.msp@parliament.scot