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An action group set up to develop the tourism industry in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders has unveiled ‘Going Beyond’, a guide to help businesses working with the travel trade. Midlothian and Borders Tourism Action Group (MBTAG) say the purpose of the publication is to provide businesses in the area with information and intelligence that will help them attract more overseas visitors. It covers topics from how to generate more longer staying and higher spending visitors to ensuring long-term partnerships with third-party booking agents, tour operators and wholesalers are brokered. It can also help businesses understand transnational consumer needs, motivations and different travel styles, as well as language, cultural and culinary requirements.

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Planning permission has been granted to create a new home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland in Galashiels. Work on the £6.7m project will begin next year and it is due to open in spring 2020. It is expected to attract more than 50,000 people to Galashiels each year and create 16 jobs. Under the plans the former Post Office will be converted and the empty Poundstretcher demolished. The 143m long tapestry was stitched by more than 1,000 volunteers and details the history of Scotland..

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A string of council-backed events across the Borders have been estimated to generate nearly £6m for the region. A report has detailed the scale of the economic contribution from tournaments and festivals across the area. Scottish Borders Council said it aimed to maximise the "financial leverage" from its investments. It said the local authority would keep working with outside organisations to expand existing festivals but also try to attract "new, exciting events"...

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Midlothian warms up for some festive family fun this winter Midlothian is the place to be this winter, with a jam-packed programme of festive fun on offer for the county’s first ever Winter Festival! The programme has been put together by Midlothian Tourism Forum and Midlothian Council, in a bid to help boost local businesses and visitor attractions and to encourage more visitors to the area. From November through to February, you’ll find a range of entertaining events and activities which are sure to suit every age and interest.

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Major funding packages totalling £3.4 million have been secured to revitalise the centre of Gorebridge and turn a disused building at Newtongrange railway station into a community space and bistro. The Borders Railway Blueprint Programme, set up to maximise the economic opportunities of the line supported by £10 million of Scottish Government money, agreed match funding of £1,038,000 for ‘Gorebridge Connected’ and a further £191,000 for the Newtongrange, Track2Train initiative. The Blueprint commitments bring the total amount to be invested in both projects from various sources to £3.437 million....

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The number of young people taking up modern apprenticeships in the Borders rose by 22% last financial year, the Scottish Parliament has been told. That news was conveyed to Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton by Jamie Hepburn, Scottish Government minister for training and employability. In her Southern Reporter column last week, Mrs Hamilton, a Conservative, criticised the Scottish National Party government’s spending record on apprenticeships, claiming the less than 5% of spending devoted to its skills fund was “simply not enough”. She also called on the Scottish Government to incentivise sectors of industry to offer more apprenticeships. In a written parliamentary question, Mrs Hamilton wanted to know what action the Government is taking to increase the number of apprenticeships in the Borders.

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Leading industrial and environmental services business, NWH Group has reported a 23 per cent growth in turnover to reach £25.5 million at its year end 2016. The business, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is now on track to deliver £31m at year end 2017. Growth has been achieved through a mix of organic growth and acquisitions in line with the business’ strategy to expand in to new geographical locations and diversify its range of services, including the acquisition of DJ Laing’s waste management operations in Dundee. Complementing the financial growth, employee numbers have risen accordingly from 211 at year end 2015 to 240 at year end 2016. The group currently employs 310 staff.

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A five-year housing plan for the Borders could see up to 1,177 affordable homes being built. The Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) covers the period from 2018 to 2023 and looks at local need. The estimate of more than 1,000 homes is based on anticipated funding and assumes "all land and infrastructure challenges" can be resolved. Mark Rowley, of Scottish Borders Council, said the "ambitious plan" could help meet local housing needs. "Clearly house-building of this scale would also have a very positive impact on the local construction sector, and in turn on jobs and the wider economy," he said. "The end result would provide local people with homes in Borders communities, enabling them to live and work locally.

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The award-winning brewery uses barley grown in the fields surrounding it on the 1,800-acre Chesters Estate to produce beers such as Foxy Blonde, Game Bird, Holy Cow, Dark Horse, Flower of Scotland and Gold Dust. At the moment, though, it has to send its beer south of the border to Cockermouth in Cumbria for bottling, flying in the face of its commitment to use local ingredients and services as much as it can, what it bills as a plough-to-pint ethos. “Up until now, we’ve had to outsource our bottling, which always went against our aim of keeping everything in-house,” said owner John Henderson. “The arrival of the new bottling line signals a step-change in our ambitions and lets us keep every part of the process in the Teviot Valley, where we are based.”

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Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce’s new president Archie Paterson has pledged to continue to grow the organisation. Mr Paterson, who is also the centre manager of the Midlothian Innovation Centre, takes over from East Lothian-based Keith Barbour. The former banker said: “The chamber has developed over the last number of years to try and grow and support the businesse in Midlothian and East Lothian. “The economic conditions have been difficult but there is a real opportunity now to grasp the nettle and the chamber is here to help businesses increase their profitability. By networking we can help find other opportunities to buyfrom and sell to. My aim is to develop this further and to grow the membership of the chamber to the benefit of all its members.”