Tax breaks and government grants are ready to be deployed in the battle to save Dundee’s Michelin plant, says the finance secretary.
Derek Mackay has three weeks to prepare a rescue package for the Baldovie plant before presenting it to company executives.
The campaign to protect the 845 jobs starts in earnest on Monday, when Mr Mackay hosts the first meeting of the action group.
Michelin revealed plans earlier this week to close the site in 2020, blaming a drop in customer demand and cheaper rival products from Asia.
Speaking to The Courier on Wednesday, Mr Mackay said the package he proposes to the executive group at Michelin will be based on “innovative interventions and potentially financial support”.
“I’ve said that I will look again at additional resources, it might be tax incentives, it might be enterprise grants, there is a range of things we can do,” he said.
“The mission is to retain the plant and repurposing potentially around diversification if that ensures a future for the plant in Dundee.”
He said they “will find a way” in partnership with Dundee City Council to slash rates bills at the site if required.
“That doesn’t necessarily address the competitive issue or the Asian imports,” he added. “That’s where the UK Government comes into play.”
Mr Mackay met with the Scottish Secretary on Wednesday, where he urged him to raise the UK Government’s contribution to the Tay Cities Deal by £50 million.
He said: “The support I’m calling for from the UK Government is specifically around additionality for the cities deal, or extra support from the industrial strategy or indeed a sector deal that supports the Michelin plant specifically and I need real action from the UK Government.”
The Scottish Government said they asked the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to attend next week’s launch of the action group.
Mr Mackay said: “I’ve invited the Business Secretary and the junior minister. They say they cannot attend, that’s unfortunate, but hopefully the Secretary of State (for Scotland) comes.”
Asked if he was disappointed there was no firm commitment from Mr Mundell, the MSP said: “It’s up to David Mundell to answer for his diary. I’m a busy man too but I’m going to be there on Monday.”
Mr Mundell’s spokesman said: “The plan is to be there on Monday.”
The Scottish Government hopes the proposition to executives in about three weeks will be made in Scotland.
But Mr Mackay said he will do it “anywhere, anytime to save these jobs”.
In a message to workers, he said: “I still have hope for Dundee.
“We are not throwing in the towel. In fact we are doing everything possible to save the plant to retain a future and to protect the workforce at all costs.”