The number of registered businesses in Dumfries and Galloway has declined over the last eight years from 6,795 in 2010 to 6,670 in 2017, research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found.
In its response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on a new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland, the small business campaign group called for the new body to look at the need to increase the number of businesses.
The decline is at odds with the national trend of growing number of businesses. In Scotland, the number of registered businesses has increased by 13 per cent from 155,045 in 2010 to 176,400 in 2017 and the organisation has said that Dumfries and Galloway is the only area in the country which has seen a decline in the same period.
Brian Sherman, leader of FSB in the region, said: “These worrying figures show that this region has missed out on the recent rapid growth of businesses in Scotland.
“It could be because we have more businesses closing down as people get older and local economy has been sluggish, or because we have fewer start-ups than in other regions. The new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland should look into what has been happening and where the decline is notable.
“If this trend continues, we could be left behind whilst the rest of the country sees start-ups booming and business scene thriving.
“The new enterprise agency will have a vital role to reverse this trend, support local smaller firms and create a more diverse business and employment base. We need to make sure that boosting business numbers and supporting smaller firms will be at the heart of its strategy.”