Weekly update, 16th June

Tourism, Food & Drink:

This week has been the annual Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, and north companies such as Mey Selections and Berry Good have been exhibiting. Indeed Berry Good has won the Supplier of the Year award in Scottish Farmer’s awards announced at the event yesterday (Thursday), so congratulations to Jill Brown for yet more recognition for her fruit-infused spirits. It has been a good year so far for food & drink development in the area, with companies (such as JPL Shellfish, Scrabster Seafoods, Wolfburn Distillery and Dunnet Bay Distillery) all making positive forward plans. CNSRP partners expect to support up to 25 jobs in the food & drink sector by March 2017.

Enabling activities:

CNSRP’s Advisory and Executive Boards had their quarterly meetings this week. In addition the two groups had their annual joint session, at which members of both groups discuss progress and debate current and future issues. Members of both boards welcomed progress being made in attracting new business into the area, with detailed discussions now taking place with several companies. It was also encouraging to note the key project milestones reached during spring and early summer, with CNSRP partners Highland Council and Scottish Government giving planning permission/ consent to proposals Meygen, Scrabster Harbour Trust, Moray Offshore Renewables and Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, as well as Transport Scotland publishing its preferred option for realigning the A9 at Berriedale. It was particularly good to hear of the range of work currently being done to support young people making transitions from school/ college into work.

Wick High School’s “Chore Attack” app is bidding to win the People’s Choice award at the UK-wide Apps for Good competition. The High’s School’s track record in the competition is good, and demonstrates the ongoing development of innovative skillsets in students from the area. You can vote for the App here and watch a short video from the team. Our CNSRP Advisory Board members this week paid tribute to the great work being done by organisations like Caithness Chamber of Commerce to support team in the Young Enterprise Scotland competition, so it was great that same night to hear that Farr High School’s “My Wee Highland Hame” team had won a raft of awards at the Young Enterprise Scotland award event, including the Company of the Year award for Scotland. The team will now go forward to the UK finals in London.

Continuing the theme of opportunities for young people, the ScotGrad website is currently advertising graduate placement opportunities in Caithness. Caithness Chamber of Commerce are seeking to recruit a 12 month long post of  graduate marketing assistant, with a deadline of 10th July, and North Highland Initiative  seeks an 8-week placement for a Project Research & Social Media Assistant with a deadline of Friday 26th June.

CNSRP partner the Highland Council is holding two public engagement events in Caithness in support of the developing strategy for a new LEADER programme for the Highlands. Both events will be held in the Pentland Hotel, Thurso, on Wednesday 2nd July, from 3pm-5pm and again from 7pm-9pm.

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:

  • The Dounreay Stakeholder Group met this week, and my quarterly update report was available for discussion in the agenda item led by Socio-economic Subgroup Chairman Derrick Milnes. Derrick is also the vice-Chairman of the DSG, and along with DSG Chairman David Flear he sits on the CNSRP Advisory Board on behalf of the Thurso & Wick Trades Union Council. It was good to have David Flear highlight the positive recent comments made in the Scottish Parliament by John Swinney MSP about CNSRP, and the suggestion that the Partnership could act as an exemplar for other areas going through economic transition.
  • It is good to see the business plans developed by local man Chris Sinclair coming together with the launch of his exciting new business Sinclair Aerial Surveys. The company uses Chris’ experience in unmanned aerial vehicle operations to offer services such as aerial photography and inspection. Chris has received support from Highland Opportunity and Business Gateway as well as Caithness Chamber of Commerce.