Investments made by the region’s development agency to stimulate growth and attract new business to the area are generating an increased turnover of £104m and supporting almost 1,500 jobs in the Highlands and Islands.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s (HIE) 2011-12 end of year results, reviewed by board members this week, reveal a successful year with forecasts for turnover of supported businesses, sales outside of Scotland and overall jobs supported all exceeding targets.
HIE chairman Professor Lorne Crerar commented: “These results chart a highly productive year for HIE, especially against the backdrop of challenging economic conditions. Our investments are having positive impacts across the region. HIE’s account management approach enables clients to build lasting relationships with us and we are working closely with over 400 businesses,144 social enterprises and 50 communities.”
He added: “We are also developing some of the most ambitious projects the region has ever seen, designed to ensure we can be competitive in a global marketplace.”
The figures reveal a busy year for inward investment, particularly within the business services and life sciences sectors.
Approved financial support from HIE to existing and new investors is expected to generate over 800 jobs with operations including Atos, Capita, Vertex and Citizens Advice Direct.
As well as working to bring new business to the area, HIE has supported over 100 local firms and social enterprises with their ambitions to export. A total investment of £5.2m supporting internationalisation is forecast to generate an increase of £44m in turnover over the next three years.
Among its principal achievements, HIE saw work start at some of the region’s most ambitious infrastructure projects – the Inverness Campus, the European Marine Science Park in Argyll, Scrabster Harbour and the re-development of John O’Groats in Caithness.
At the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, all 14 wave and tidal test sites are now fully operational, and six new units were built at Hatston for marine energy developers.
Enabling the Highlands and Islands to become a digital region is a top priority. The agency is tendering for a commercial business partner to co-invest in a project to equip all areas with superfast broadband.
HIE works to develop regional opportunities across seven key sectors and notable achievements in the past year include:-
· Investments in multi-million pound energy projects at Scrabster, Nigg, Machrihanish, Arnish and Kirkwall.
· In the creative industries sector a new Creative Industries and Media Centre for Stornoway.
· In Life Sciences almost 50 organisations are now involved in developing digital healthcare opportunities.
· In tourism visitors will be able to stay longer at John O’Groats with the creation of luxury eco-lodges, part of the first phase of the regeneration masterplan.
· HIE worked with 120 businesses in the Food and Drink sector in 2011-12.
· Hundreds of jobs have been created in the business services sector.
· HIE has invested £1.7m in University of the Highlands and Islands research projects.
Professor Crerar concluded: “HIE is very much part of the communities it serves and we share the same ambition to maximise opportunities. We will continue to deliver the Government Economic Strategy and aim to exceed our targets set out for increasing sustainable economic growth across all areas of the Highlands and Islands over the coming year.”
Full details of HIE's end of year results can be found by visiting: http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/policies-and-publications/key-facts-and-figures.html