Job success at Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Year-end figures compiled by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) estimate that 855 jobs are expected to be created or retained in the region as a result of the organisation’s investments during the year, with 124 of these in “fragile areas.”

Turnover among HIE-supported businesses and social enterprises is anticipated to increase by £140 million over three years and international sales by £90 million, HIE estimates.

The region’s “social economy turnover” is forecast to increase by almost £4 million, £1.8 million of this by community-owned assets, HIE said.

Developments included a number of major infrastructure projects including Inverness Campus, Nigg South Quay and Lochboisdale Port.

HIE subsidiary Wave Energy Scotland completed its first full year in operation.

Digital connectivity continued to improve for businesses and households across the region, with the number of premises with access through the HIE-led Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project reaching 122,000.

HIE chairman professor Lorne Crerar, said: “The current challenges facing industries, businesses and commercial growth worldwide are well documented.

“The progress we have seen in the Highlands and Islands over the past year, in the context of those challenges, is testament to the superb levels of ambition, entrepreneurship and innovation that thrives in businesses, social enterprises and communities across our region.

“HIE’s role is to foster those qualities and invest in initiatives that stimulate and enable growth. I am delighted we have been able to make such good progress and look forward to working with partners and clients to continue to grow the region’s economy in the years ahead.”

HIE said it also helped attract six foreign direct investments expected to deliver 218 jobs and secure investment of £111 million for the region.

These include Norbord’s plans to invest £95 million in its Inverness mill and CS Wind UK’s acquisition of Wind Towers Scotland in Machrihanish.

“In delivering its community development remit, HIE is now supporting 84 groups to acquire and manage assets ranging from shop premises to lifeline services to whole estates,” added HIE.

“Last year, 14 groups received £301,000 HIE investment against total project costs of £2.4 million.”