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Weekly Update, 4th July 2011

I participated in a meeting this week of the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters Coordination Committee, substituting for Stuart Black of Highland Council. This group brings together Scottish Government’s Renewables team, Marine Scotland, HIE, Highland Council, Orkney Islands Council and the Crown Estate. In the light of the Crown Estate’s recent publication of the “build-out story” for wave and tidal energy in the Pentland Firth area the group is focusing on the collective actions that its members can prioritise over the coming months and years to support the industry’s requirements and to maximise the economic benefits from developing the industry.

Enabling activities:

Business Gateway, the national business support and advisory network, which is run in this area by Highland Opportunity Ltd on behalf of Highland Council, continues to support a range of new and existing companies. I met this week with Development Officer Jennifer Irvine for a regular progress update. Business Gateway supported 24 new business starts in Caithness alone last year, and Jennifer and her colleague David Knight in Sutherland work with HIE to support the Scottish Government’s economic strategy. Business Gateway is also working with Caithness Chamber of Commerce to support local businesses to address issues such as procurement opportunities and legislation. 

I also met this week with members of the North Highland Regeneration Fund, the NDA-supported initiative to deliver loan-based finance to local businesses. Joining up our collective efforts on public sector support to business is acknowledged to be a key opportunity for us, and is an important factor in marketing the area as an attractive one in which to do business. Better targeting of support to key sectors is an issue for us as we pursue the Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan’s focus on opportunities in energy and business services.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has appointed David Richardson as its new Highlandsand Islands Development Manager. David will be known to many in the north through previous roles at Sutherland Tourist Board, Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board and the Carnegie Club at Skibo. Through the good offices of FSB’s area chair Joan Campbell I’ll be meeting up with David next week to discuss current challenges and opportunities in this area. Meantime you can read coverage of his appointment at


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: