Weekly Update, 20th June 2011

Energy:
DSRL and Caithness Chamber of Commerce hosted a visit to the area this week from Dan Mistry UKAEA Culham Division, who met with a range of local companies and organisations to inform them of potential supply chain opportunities in the international fusion research programmes.  In our wash-up meeting with Dan after his two days in Caithness it was encouraging to hear his views on the area’s engineering capabilities, and to have it confirmed that contracts in the fusion sector are within the engineering capabilities of area businesses. It was also extremely useful to understand the mechanisms by which local businesses can become better connected to opportunities both in the UK and abroad in this sector. 

Business Services:

Following the move of its Pensions Office to larger premises at Forss Business & Technology Park Babcock International Group has announced that they have secured extensions to four key contracts, securing the jobs of its staff in the county. As previously reported, the organisation is also positioning itself to win new business in the pensions industry.The story was covered in the Caithness Courier (not online) and on the web via Caithness Chamber of Commerce’s website at http://www.caithnesschamber.com/news/index.asp?Article=1254

Tourism:

As previously mentioned in updates, one of HIE’s early contributions to the work of the Partnership was the recruitment of a dedicated tourism manager for Caithness & North Sutherland. Rachel Skene has been working on an intensive series of sessions with local, regional and national tourism businesses and organisations on a programme entitled “Ambitioius for Tourism – Caithness & North Sutherland” and the first written results of that process have been published this week. The reports are available to download at http://www.hie.co.uk/highlands-and-islands/economic-reports-and-research and further information is available from the dedicated Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ambitious-for-Tourism-Caithness-and-North-Sutherland/142130785831795#!/pages/Ambitious-for-Tourism-Caithness-and-North-Sutherland/142130785831795?sk=info

Enabling activities:

The Partnership’s Delivery Group met this week and agreed to bring together priority projects requiring a partnership approach over the coming 12 months, as part of the Partnership’s ongoing efforts to maximise the financial and human resources available through the partner bodies to support the delivery of the Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan. The Delivery Group’s proposals will then be submitted to the Partnership’s Executive Board for agreement.

The Delivery Group’s meeting was the last one attended by Ian Hargrave before he leaves his position as Highland Council’s Corporate Manager for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. In addition to being a key contributor to the Partnership’s Delivery Group and Advisory Board Ian has also been my line manager for the last three years, and has been an invaluable source of advice and support during that time. We all wish Ian well for the future. The Highland Council will now have one Corporate Manager covering all of the Highland Council area. He is William Gilfillan, who attended the Partnership’s recent Advisory Board meeting. Highland Council’s Stuart Black is my new line manager.

Communications:

As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

North of Scotland Newspapers’ “Energy North” supplement was published this week, and continues its great track record of carrying stories highlighting current and potential work in the energy sectors in the north. This issue carries coverage of the Engineering Technology and Energy centre at North Highland College; the launch of the STEM project for Caithness & North Sutherland, the launch of the web portal for offshore wind in Scotland; and the delivery of four towheads to Wick harbour for Subsea 7’s BP Andrew project.