Marie Macklin’s speech at Barclay’s Thriving Economies 11th June 2019
My hometown of Kilmarnock was built by the hands of men and women of greatness, the makers the doers. The town was at the forefront of the 1st industrial revolution formed by entrepreneurs of greatness, Johnnie Walker Whisky, Andrew Barclay Railway Locomotives, Stoddard Carpets just a few of the manufacturing plants that grew our local economy. All which are now gone.
We were also at the forefront in the creation of a New World with our friends in the USA. How you may ask. Well the Declaration of Independence on the 4th July 1776 was a result of the Founding Fathers of the United States and one of those fathers was a 19-year-old Alexander Hamilton who had huge heart and tenacity. He became the 1st Secretary of the Treasury and the main author of economic policies of the George Washington administration.
He was said to be the Patron Saint of American School of economic philosophy. He was the illegitimate son of James Hamilton the 4th son of Laird Alexander Hamilton of Grange Kilmarnock Ayrshire, yes Kilmarnock. But over the years we have seen decline and 10 years ago, next month, we as a community came together when we received the final nail in the coffin with the demise of our Johnnie Walker Whisky bottling plant located on this very site and next door.
We were left with 28 acres of industrial devastation and 700 job losses. 20,000 of us marched to save the jobs but it was not to be. So, what did we do, stand back and do nothing? NO! Not in my book! You seize the moment and drive change to put Kilmarnock and Ayrshire at the forefront of the new 4th Industrial revolution, the digital and robotic age that will create new jobs, new skills and a Thriving Local Economy.
I grew up in this postcode area – one of the most economically challenging areas in Scotland it was a great community then and is a great community now with a huge beating heart. For the last 10 years I along with my HALO project team have been working on a community solution for the former Johnnie Walker site.
Key to this solution have been our Partners including East Ayrshire Council, Scottish and UK Governments, Diageo and Platinum Sponsorship Partners including Scottish Power, Stage Coach, CGI and Barclays. And our education Partners Ayrshire College, GCU and UWS to name a few. So, I am very pleased to say due to our Partnerships approach our HALO Urban Regeneration Company will break ground this August in a £65M redevelopment of the former Johnnie Walker site, creating up to 1500 jobs £100M of GDP and will open in 2020, when we celebrate Johnnie Walker’s 200th anniversary .
And at this time, I mention Scottish Enterprise and the leadership of their CEO Steve Dunlop and his team led by Allan McQuade. Whose support is enabling the HALO dream to become a reality. But this would not be possible without Commercial Partnerships. And key to HALO and Kilmarnock’s success will be bringing together commercial Partners who will create that economic growth. This is where the Barclays PLC Partnership will drive forward that economic growth for Kilmarnock, Ayrshire and Scotland. 2 years ago, I and HALO MD Derek Weir met with Barclays Stuart Brown and Andy Hall, to discuss how we could attract Barclays to the HALO which in turn would create opportunity for all, not just on the HALO site but across, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire and Scotland working with local community organisations.
My mantra was please come to Kilmarnock, please help us make change, please create opportunities, please believe in us. We might not be a city, but we have quality assets … our people! Well, as you can see from this momentous occasion today, Stuart, Andy and the Barclays executive team, listened. Barclays believe in us, the people; they will assist us in enabling our community to sing again, they are the ones we have been waiting for. We will see various programmes and economic actions over the next 3 years that will put Kilmarnock firmly on the map as the Most Entrepreneurial Town & Community in Scotland, which will in turn create jobs and return an economic beating heart back into Kilmarnock.
Barclays are showing leadership by giving a vote of confidence to Kilmarnock, that we can reinvent Kilmarnock through the new 4th industrial revolution. You could say Barclays are a HALO of light to come out of the darkness.
Keeping with the USA and Scotland connection I refer to a speech made on 5th Feb 2008 by former President Obama. ‘The stakes are too high and the challenges too great to play the same Washington game with the same Washington players and somehow expect a different result. This time must be different. This time we have to turn the page. This time we have to write a new chapter in American history.’ This time we have to seize the moment.
So, today here in Kilmarnock we are turning the page, we are writing a new chapter in Kilmarnock’s history and seizing that moment with Barclays PLC. For me today is about our young people our future so my message to our young people is this… we locals just like Alexander Hamilton have tenacity and heart. And it doesn’t matter where you come from its where we are going and having heart on that journey, and in this room today, I see a huge beating heart of HOPE. Jess I want to thank Barclays PLC for their support and I look forward to working with you all.