A louder voice for businesses in Argyll?

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Argyll and the Isles could have a stronger business voice to address challenges – and make the best of opportunities – within the region.

Mid Argyll Chamber of Commerce raised the prospect of a pan-Argyll business network at a special meeting in Lochgilphead, with business representatives invited from far and wide.

The idea arose from meetings in 2019 during which one of the subjects under discussion was the Rural Growth Deal, at which point it was realised there was no single business voice for Argyll.

Businesspeople from Campbeltown, Oban and Lochgilphead attended the meeting, held on January 28 and hosted by MacLeod Construction, where chamber of commerce chairman David Smart said: ‘The intention is not to replicate the effort of organisations already in existence but to act as a hub or conduit for concerns.’

The move was welcomed by Kintyre businessman Jim Martin, who stressed the impact on the area of recent job losses at CS Wind and Campbeltown Creamery.

Mr Martin said: ‘It would be useful to be connected to other business groups around Argyll to give us more influence.’

An important next step will be to look at the formation of a Kintyre business group to join the Oban and Dunoon Business Improvement Districts and Mid Argyll Chamber of Commerce in the umbrella organisation.

It is hoped Helensburgh Chamber of Commerce will get involved and the need to include rural and island areas is high on the list.

‘Some of the benefits will be the potential for more clout with politicians at all levels and, hopefully, this will be a vehicle for bringing people together,’ said David Smart.

The move is supported by Argyll and Bute Council’s Business Gateway team and a follow-up meeting is planned.