Mr McLeish was speaking at a seminar in Glasgow as part of the consultation exercise to devise a framework for economic development in Scotland.
The framework will include a careful look at factors that can accelerate economic progress and also an examination of the ways economic development impacts on the key issues of social justice and environmental sustainability.
Speaking at the seminar, Mr McLeish said: 'The Scottish executive is determined to drive forward economic development and ensure that our businesses are best placed to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise in the global economy throughout the 21st century.
'Establishing a common ground will form the basis of the final framework and it is interesting to note that there are already several recurring themes linking all those previously engaged in discussion.
'There is widespread belief that for the framework to succeed it will have to comprehensively embrace the whole of Scotland and set long-term objectives yet be able to promote a responsive and adaptive economy in the short-term. Discussions have also highlighted the need for openness in the Scottish economy and recognising the role of cultural drivers in determining future economic outcomes.
These themes appeared again during the morning discussion which focussed around three main topics:
The factors which influence economic development in Scotland and, particularly, the role of the Scottish executive;
The contribution of economic development to the different Scottish executive objectives of economic growth, social justice, sustainability, geographical equity and so on;
How the framework might be integrated into the work of the Scottish executive and how it might relate to the roles of other agencies such as non-departmental public bodies, local authorities and UK government departments.
Representatives from a wide range of organisations attended the event to exchange views and put their opinions directly to the minister.
Speaking immediately after the seminar, Mr McLeish said: 'I found the discussion today extremely useful and thank all those who attended and took part. I would encourage any others who wish to participate in this consultation exercise to make contact with Dr Andrew Goudie and his team at the Scottish executive, who will be delighted to hear their views.'
1. Views on a framework for economic development in Scotland should be addressed to Angela Campbell, senior economist, The Office of the chief economic adviser, Scottish executive, Room 357, St Andrew's House, Regent Road, EDINBURGH, EH1 3DG.
2. Consultation on a framework for economic development will last until March 6, 2000.
3. A copy of the consultation document is on the Scottish executive internet site at www.scotland.gov.uk/library2/doc09/framedev.asp