Weekly Update, 24th June 2013

Energy/ Business Services:

Arise UK have been running information sessions in the area this week, to raise awareness of opportunities for people to carry out a range of business support functions for companies in a range of sectors (financial services, hospitality, retail etc) whilst based in their own homes. A number of people attended the events in Thurso, Wick and Brora. It is an example of one of the ways in which digital technology will help the area compete effectively and allow individuals and businesses flexible opportunities to provide services from the north.

A final reminder that Marine Scotland, working with Highland Council and Heriot Watt University, will be running a drop-in session on the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan next Thursday (4th July) in the Pentland Hotel from 5.30-8.30pm. The plan will set a framework for the area’s sustainable relationship with the Firth over the coming years. The consultation papers can be viewed at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations/current/2013/06/9672

Tourism, food & drink:

Food & drink businesses from the north were at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh last week, and enjoyed a busy event, with expressions of interest in the range of products from the area.

At the event the North Highland Initiative (NHI) also announced that it has attracted £22,000 in funding from Visitscotland. This will support the development of its “My Wild North” brand, which has already attracted wide interest in its efforts to have visitors to the area record their impressions of the north through a variety of media. More information on the initiative at http://northhighlandsscotland.com/wildnorth or follow on Twitter – @mywildnorth. The NHI’s plan to investigate the feasibility of promoting a “Northern Skyway” visitor route around the north is covered in this week’s John O’Groat Journal

In a further boost for the area’s food and drink sector, it is also good to see Reid’s of Caithness winning new business in Canada, Russia and Japan. These new deals, which may require further staff recruitment at the company’s base in Thurso, add to existing export orders from Germany and China.

Next Thursday (4th July) is “Independents’ Day” for Thurso traders, with a range of events planned as part of national Independent Retailers’ Month in July. Caithness Chamber of Commerce has been working with a number of local businesses, and more information is available at facebook.com/thursotown

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:

  • I met this week with colleagues to look at ongoing communication of progress with the range of activities undertaken by partners in CNSRP, so that residents, visitors and potential investors are better informed of the area’s assets and opportunities.
  • I contribute a regular column to Scottish Provincial Press’ quarterly “Energy North” supplement, which was issued today (Friday) with copies of the John O’ Groat Journal, Northern Times, Ross-shire Journal and Inverness Courier. I focused this time on the opportunities which we have from all points of the compass at present. The supplement contains a good mix of articles on the energy sector in the Highlands.
  • Good news that Caithness Renewables has further expanded its staff, covered by the John O’ Groat Journal today.