Weekly update, 26th June

Energy & business services:
• I met Louise Smith of Caithness Renewables last week, and heard about her current role as an adviser to the “Resource Efficient Scotland” programme being run by Zero Waste Scotland on behalf of Scottish Government. The programme offers free advice and support to businesses, community groups and public organisations, helping reduce costs by reducing energy, water, and raw materials use, and by managing waste efficiently. Successes in saving businesses (local and national) money is evident from my conversations with Louise, and also from case studies at http://www.resourceefficientscotland.com/ SMEs can also apply for an interest-free, unsecured loan to help support any measures identified. Also this week CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has launched a series of information modules as part of an “Energy Systems Toolkit” – this is aimed at businesses and community organisations planning or developing projects, and provides information designed to help assess whether a project idea is viable or highlight alternative options for consideration. More information and downloadable fact sheets are available at http://www.hie.co.uk/community-support/community-energy/energy-systems-toolkit.html

Tourism Food & Drink:
• Good to see two north names on the shortlist for this year’s Highlands and Islands Food & Drink Awards, the results of which are due to be announced by food critic and broadcaster Jay Rayner at a ceremony in Inverness this Autumn. Dunnet Bay Distillers is shortlisted in the “Business Growth” category, whilst John O’ Groats based Stacks Coffee House & Bistro is nominated in the “New Business” category. Good luck to both, and to all the other companies and individuals that make this event happen each year! http://www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com/awards/shortlist/

Enabling Activities:
• It’s good to see this week’s announcement from Scottish Government that funding for the Developing The Young Workforce initiative is being extended until 2021. The Initiative is led in the north by Caithness Chamber of Commerce, with funding from both Scottish Government and CNSRP partner the NDA. You can read the announcement at https://news.gov.scot/news/gbp-1m-boost-for-the-young-workforce and there is more information on the progress being made in our area at http://caithnesschamber.com/projects/developing-the-young-workforce/dyw-information

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’m looking forward to giving a short presentation next week to a group of young people starting their “Ready Steady Work” course. The initiative is coordinated annually by Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd in partnership with North Highland College, local High Schools and local employers. It seeks to offer pupils in 4th, 5th and 6th year practical skills and information required to support moving into employment, and will involve visits to local employers as well as workshop sessions on employability topics. I hope that my presentation will give participants a flavour for the areas of economic opportunity we see, both now and in the future.
• “Energy North” – the supplement published by Scottish Provincial Press – is out this week, and contains its usual mix of stories from the energy sector in the north. This issue contains an interview with Audrey Maciver, the new Director of Energy & Low Carbon at HIE.