IN these days when you do not have to look far to see economic misery in the UK, it is more important than ever to celebrate the good news when it does come along.

In a Scottish context, two sets of figures in recent days revealing great success on the foreign direct investment (FDI) front have provided plenty to toast.

Inward investment is surely one of the best indicators of the esteem in which a particular nation, or other geographical area, is held, taking in all it has to offer including its economy, the skills and talents of its workforce, and the quality of life.

And the fact that Scotland continues to do very well indeed on FDI is most heartening, particularly given the amount of mudslinging that goes on when it comes to Scotland’s economic and business scene. Such disparagement is often carried out by those with personal political motivations - as opposed to objective heads who would analyse the cold facts in a dispassionate way - but the ubiquity of it seems to create a more general impression among some people that the nation is somehow a basket case.

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A survey published last Wednesday revealed that Scotland had reclaimed its previously long-held position as the top UK location for financial services FDI outside London.

London remained the most attractive UK destination for financial services FDI in 2022, attracting 46 projects, according to the survey published by EY. Scotland was in second place with eight projects - up from three in 2021.

Publishing its latest financial services attractiveness survey, EY noted: “Scotland has been the second-placed...for financial services FDI – at least jointly – for nine of the last 10 years, with the exception of 2021.”

Sue Dawe, EY Scotland’s managing partner for financial services, declared: “This is great news for Scotland’s financial services sector. Scotland has deep roots in financial services, and it is positive that we can report improved investor confidence and growth in foreign direct investment projects. To see a solid mix of both new and expanded financial services projects in our major cities – as well as our return to being the top location outside London – shows that Scotland is delivering for investors.”

These are heartening words indeed, in these troubled economic times.

Of the eight Scottish wins, five were expansions of existing projects and three were new undertakings.

Edinburgh accounted for three expansions and two new projects. Glasgow attracted two expansions and one new project.

Financial services is obviously just one sector of the Scottish economy, albeit a very important one.

Looking at the broader picture for FDI across the Scottish economy, there was more good news the following day.

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Figures from FDI and trade promotion agency Scottish Development International (SDI) showed inward investment projects won in the year to March 31, 2023, are expected to create or safeguard more than 8,500 real living wage jobs, the highest number of planned jobs secured from such activity since the 2018/19 financial year.

The figures combine FDI projects supported by SDI, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland, with the jobs figures based on the plans of the companies investing.

A total of 8,533 jobs were created or safeguarded through inward investment in 2022/23, an increase of 9% compared with the previous year, SDI reported.

More than 99% of these jobs - 8,519 in total - pay above the real living wage, defined as an annual salary of at least £19,305 based on a 37.5-hour week.

Twenty different local authorities in Scotland benefited from inward investment project wins in the 12 months to March 31 this year.

Energy transition was the most common type of inward investment project supported, SDI noted, declaring this demonstrated “Scotland’s strengths in this sector”.

And North America was the main source of FDI projects attracted, the SDI figures showed.

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Adrian Gillespie, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “These are fantastic results and show Scotland remains an incredibly attractive location for global firms to not only locate in, but to also put down roots and develop a sizeable presence here.

“To secure more than 8,500 real living wage jobs in the past year – our highest total since 2018/19 – is a tremendous achievement and reflects the key strengths Scotland has to offer on the international stage."

It is difficult to disagree, surely, with this upbeat assessment, even for those who show a passion for detracting from Scotland’s successes for political and/or constitutional reasons.

What is not to like about a sharp increase in the number of jobs attracted through FDI, especially given nearly all of them are expected to pay above the real living wage at a time when households are facing huge pressures on budgets amid the UK’s cost of living crisis?

Mr Gillespie made another important point about the composition of the inward investment figures published last week.

He said: “Inward investment projects not only deliver high-quality, well-paid jobs, they can also act as a catalyst to accelerate innovation in fast-growing industries.”

Mr Gillespie cited as an example US satellite communications company Mangata’s investment in Prestwick, which he declared would “not only create almost 600 jobs but will be transformative for Scotland’s whole space sector, delivering new supply chain and international opportunities”.

Such a major investment is great news for Prestwick. There has been so much bellyaching from so many quarters about the Scottish Government’s ownership of Prestwick Airport. And it seems all too often that the thousands of jobs that are supported by the airport are overlooked.

It is certainly true, with an eye on the future, that the space sector is an exciting one.

EY is due to publish its full FDI attractiveness survey for Scotland, for 2022, on Monday, covering all sectors of the economy.

The accountancy firm, in May last year, declared Scotland had made “great strides” as a destination for FDI in 2021, as its survey for that year revealed the nation’s attractiveness rating from potential future investors had hit a record.

That survey showed, by number of projects, Scotland remained the second-top destination in the UK for FDI, behind only London, in 2021.

Scotland achieved a 14% rise in the number of inward investment projects secured in 2021, to 122, putting a 1.8% increase for the UK as a whole in the shade.

The increase in the number of inward investment projects won by Scotland in 2021 was the fourth consecutive annual rise.

Scotland’s share of all UK FDI projects rose in 2021 to its highest in the past decade. The nation secured 12.3% of UK FDI projects in 2021, up from 11% in 2020.

The survey revealed 15.8% of potential future investors had rated Scotland as the most attractive location in the UK for FDI. This is a record attractiveness reading for the nation, with only London scoring better on this front.

Projected job numbers from FDI projects secured by Scotland in 2021 totalled in excess of 10,000, the EY survey showed. This is more than double the corresponding figure of 4,500 for 2020.

Time will tell what EY’s report for 2022 shows. However, the EY financial services FDI survey for 2022 and SDI’s overall figures for job creation from inward investment in the year to March 2023 are hopefully good omens for those who are interested in the prosperity of Scotland and would like to see further encouraging news.