A top level task force is being set up to energise the Inverclyde economy and generate jobs with key players from every branch of government joining it.
Representatives from the council, the UK and the Scottish governments are to team up with other partners to find ways to turn the area’s fortunes around.
It follows a series of reports and studies which have shown the district to be badly blighted by deprivation, poor prospects, health problems and inequality.
Local authority leader Stephen McCabe has said he is ‘hopeful’ that the proposed new body could mark a turning point.
The group will look at the possibility of government agencies being based in Inverclyde, to stimulate employment and spending.
Other key objectives include ensuring that the area is given priority for national and economic support such as grants and inward investment, in view of its long-standing difficulties.
Improving Inverclyde’s pre-pandemic employment rates, creating new opportunities for local businesses and identifying specific opportunities for infrastructure projects will be among the group’s other priorities.
The idea for the task force was first hatched last November, during a meeting between Councillor McCabe and the Scottish cabinet secretary for finance Kate Forbes.
Mr McCabe said that prior to the meeting the council prepared a detailed paper outlining the underlying problems facing Inverclyde, in a bid to secure substantial support for the area.
When pressed on what the new group could achieve from a practical perspective, Mr McCabe acknowledged that the task force would not be a ‘panacea’ – but he insists it is a genuine chance to finally tackle deep-seated problems which have lasted for decades.
He said: “We need to use all available resources to stimulate the economy and the council needs the support of the government to do that.
“I’m hopeful that the task force can help us do something positive.
“It’s a way to bring these agencies together and ask how we can stimulate the local economy, get more people into work and create a better quality of jobs for people to go into.
“I think if we can get all of these agencies around the table, especially if we have political buy-in from the Scottish Government and the UK Government, we’ll get resources from these groups.
“I’ve got to take things in good faith. If it turns out to be a talking shop, I’ll not be slow to say it.
“Getting these issues on the table with the governments there will give us a chance to make a direct case to them for support.”
Councillors are due to rubber-stamp the local authority’s involvement in the group at a meeting on this week.
If created, the group will report back to the full council on a six-monthly basis.
The membership of the task force will include the area’s MP Ronnie Cowan and MSPs Stuart McMillan and Natalie Don plus regional Holyrood representatives too.
The Scottish Government and Scotland Office will also be at the table along with the council leader and other elected members and its chief executive and senior directors.
There will also be representation from Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce, Skills Development Scotland, the Department for Work and Pensions, West College Scotland, Riverside Inverclyde, and the Federation of Small Businesses.