Weekly update, 2nd June

Tourism, Food & Drink:

Further success for the area’s food & drink sector is evident in this week’s news that JPL Shellfish is to expand its premises at Scrabster to meet increasing international demand for its products. As previously highlighted, the company has been winning business in European export markets, but more recently has seen significant interest from markets in Southeast Asia. CNSRP partner HIE is investing £60,000 in support of the company’s plans, which will allow further employment opportunities on top of the 32 staff already working for the company.

 

News this week that Heritage Lottery Fund has approved over £4M to support the Peatlands Partnership’s “Flow to the Future” project in the Flow Country around Forsinard. As previously reported, the £9M project aims to establish an environmental field centre at Forsinard, as well as an observation tower and a substantial online resource for visitors and researchers.

 

Highlands and Islands Enterprise will be running a series of free 45 minute online “webinars” over the next two weeks in association with Tourism Intelligence Scotland, the Scottish Tourism Alliance and VisitScotland. These free events are designed to highlight key aspects of digital tourism. The sessions – entitled “Is My Website Working?” “Is digital marketing a DIY Job?” “Managing Your Online reputation” and “Future trends of a digital tourist” – will be held from 12th to 18th June, and online booking is available here.

 

Other sectors:

Last night (Thursday) Thurso Cinema hosted the premiere of a series of short films scripted by students of North Highland College under the tutelage of George Gunn. The audience saw films produced in association with Big Box Network, the Caithness company whose expertise in the technicalities of film-making was evident in the quality on show. The films featured local actors, and Big Box’s supporting film crew were all from Caithness. In the week that Inverness celebrated creative arts through the GONorth festival Ali Murray of Big Box Productions hopes that this successful project will build further momentum behind the development of a creative industries cluster in the north. The partnership between North Highland College, Thurso Cinema and Big Box Productions has proved very beneficial.

 

Enabling activities:

Wick High School’s students continue to be recognised for their excellent work in technology, with Wick Ed’s success this week in winning the Social Enterprise in Education award at the Social Enterprise Academy’s Awards ceremony in Edinburgh for their Fabwicks and Quax products. And Wick High’s excellence in app-building has again been recognised with this week’s inclusion of the “Chore Attack” team in the Apps for Good award finals, following the successes of two Wick student teams in last year’s competition, which resulted in the teams’ two apps being launched on IOS and Android.

 

North Highland College will be running an “Engineering Employability Essentials” programme this summer. The programme is aimed at young people looking to progress into work through a Modern Apprenticeship or equivalent, and has been developed with support from seven local employers.

 

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:

 

  • CNSRP’s programme continues to progress well, and it is particularly heartening to hear positive comments on our approach to sustainable economic development. Last week in the Scottish Parliament John Swinney MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth) responded to a question from Jean Urquhart MSP about measures to sustain employment in Caithness & North Sutherland and mentioned that he was “impressed by the way in which the partnership’s focused work has brought together all relevant agencies to find ways of reskilling and redeploying individuals who are involved in the work at Dounreay and, crucially, to find other sustainable business opportunities to support employment in the Caithness economy.”
  • Scottish Provincial Press published its regular “Energy North” supplement last week, and the issue is now available online.