Weekly update, 25th November

Enabling Activities:

Today (Friday) was the AGM of the North Highland Regeneration Fund, the loan fund established with support from the NDA. Afterwards guest speakers Rob Arthur of Thurso Cinema and Andrew Mackay of Norseman and Castletown Hotels talked about what inspired them to get involved in business. The event finished with a presentation to the local student teams from Farr High, Wick High and North Highland College who participated in the “Dragon’s Den” style business competition held earlier in the morning with judges Rob Arthur, Andrew Mackay, Willie Watt (Subsea 7) and Stephen Sutherland (JGC). The winners were Farr High, and the judges praised all three teams for their strong business cases and presentation skills.

Also having its AGM today was the Caithness & North Sutherland Fund, which was set up to administer the community benefit fund from the construction/ operation of the Low-Level Waste facility at Dounreay. Set up by the NDA and DSRL the Fund is worth £4M over the lifetime of the facility, with an initial £1M in 2011 followed by £300,000 each year from 2014 to 2023. The Company’s board, under the chairmanship of John Henderson, has so far approved around £800,000 in funding to community organisations in the area for 57 projects with a total value of over £3M.

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:

  • Scottish Provincial Press issued its “Energy North” Supplement this week with its Highland newspaper titles. This month sees coverage of Willie Watt’s award as Ambassador for 2013 at the Energy North Awards, and his views on the area’s future economic prospects; and pieces from HIE’s Elaine Hanton and SSE’s Dave Mackay.
  • Today’s edition of the John O’Groat Journal carries a short piece by Stephen Sutherland, Chairman of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, on the area’s current and future economic prospects, and a piece from Will Clark highlighting an extended deadline for local High School students to apply for apprenticeships available as part of Miller Construction’s contract to build the new Wick High School campus and the new primary school to the north of the Wick river. The company estimates the construction programme will create 400 jobs. The deadline has been extended to 6th January.