Boston aid for spurring Scottish jobs

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Scotland is strengthening its commercial links with the United States in a bid to counter the worst effects of the country's grim economic recession and bring jobs to some of the 250,000 Scots now registered as unemployed.

The Boston Venture Founders Corporation of Boston is cooperating in a plan that will bring US management assistance to financial investments for north Scotland. The plan was conceived by Highland Venture Capital, a Scottish-based company founded to extend the activities of the Highlands and Islands Development Board.

An enterprise that involves the Highlands and Islands Development Board, the Bank of Scotland, and the United Kingdom's Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation, Highland Venture Capital will extend loans of up to L300,000 ($720, 000) for determined entrepreneurs who wish to build multimillion- pound companies in north Scotland.

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The US-based Venture Founders Corporation, which was started in 1972 and has helped develop 25 American companies, will provide important managerial advice for the Scottish Highlands investment program, but it will not put any money into the project.

Although vast amounts of money have been invested by the international oil companies in northeast Scotland as petroleum recovery activities have expanded in the North Sea, the spinoff in new jobs has not been enough to slow the growth of unemployment in the Highlands. Some of the new jobs for skilled workers have been taken by tradesmen living outside Scotland, and many people are without work in the western and central Highlands. A large papermaking plant recently closed down near the northwest town of Fort William, and there has been growing unemployment among fishermen and people engaged in traditional occupations.

The founding of Highland Venture Capital is an attempt to attract strong people who can work to form sound and expanding enterprises in north Scotland. It is particularly aimed at helping entrepreneurs who have had experience in large companies and wish to establish their own businesses. The new promotional group is also eager to extend loans to small businesses with ambitious plans for expansion.

Established many years ago by a Labour administration in Whitehall, the Highlands and Islands Development Board has provided funds and technical assistance for many projects in the north. The board, which was heavily criticized at one stage by some newspapers for wasting taxpayers' money, has lent funds to fish farms on the west coast, crofters, and cooperative enterprises.

The development board, which works closely with the North of Scotland Hydroelectric Board and the Forestry Commission to maintain and expand work projects in the Highlands, is looking for a new chairman. Sir Kenneth Alexander is stepping down as chairman to take up an appointment as principal of Stirling University.

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