Scotland 'Real Northern Powerhouse'

Scotland's "increasing profile'' is not just a political one, according to Nicola Sturgeon, who described the country as "the real northern powerhouse''.

The First Minister set out how she wanted Scotland to be the best part of the United Kingdom to do business in and said having a strong and growing economy outside London and the south east "helps to rebalance the UK''.

Writing in The Times, she also said the country's international profile "has never been greater'' as she pointed to large sporting events held in Scotland in the last year, including the Commonwealth Games, golf's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and this week's Open at St Andrews.

She said: "London can't help but have noticed the arrival of a significant Scottish presence in the last few months. The 56 SNP MPs and the importance of Scotland to the political discussion at Westminster has once again put the focus on events north of the border.

"But Scotland's increasing profile is not just a political one.

"Our economic standing is making an increasing impression. In truth - as I will tell audiences in the City and at The Times CEO conference today - Scotland is the real northern powerhouse.''

She added: "Anyone in business looking for a location that is genuinely focused on productivity, with a government that supports new infrastructure and is focused on innovation and internationalisation, that is pro-European and open to opportunities from new economies, in a country that has a highly educated population and proximity to a globally important city need look no further than Scotland.''

Ms Sturgeon talked about the country's increase in international exports and highlighted recent figures showing almost 10,000 jobs in Scotland were created or supported by foreign investment last year.

"We want to build on that success and use the advantages we have, such as our proximity to London, to make the real northern powerhouse even stronger. We want Scotland to be - and to be seen to be - the best part of the UK to do business in,'' she said.

"In that ambition, we see the proximity of London as an opportunity, London is a great world city and a global business hub; that's a selling point for Scotland. I want to work with companies who have big operations in London to explore how offices in Scotland - with our lower cost base - can complement their London bases, and find out what we can do to make Scotland an even more attractive location.

"We can be partners in growing our respective economies - not competitors.''

She added: "After all, the stronger all of our economies become - London, the north of England and Scotland - the better for all of us.''

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