Highland economy on path to recovery.
Members of The Highland Council have noted the improving economic situation in the Highlands and hailed the positive developments and opportunities available to businesses and individuals across the region.
At today’s meeting of The Highland Council, Stuart Black, Director of Development and Infrastructure said: “There is good reason to be positive about the future prospects of the Highland economy.”
He explained that a 2.4% economic growth predicted for the Scottish economy in 2014 was higher than an original forecast of 1.7%. He said: “These estimates, together with growing employment and increasing business confidence all indicate that the Scottish and Highland economies are on a positive path of economic recovery.”
Mr Black also highlighted that in May 2014 Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) published that: 58% of businesses reported improved performance; 93% businesses were optimistic about the future; and 91% of business were anticipating further growth. Further figures from HIE estimated that 1,600 jobs were forecast to be created through support to business over 2013/14 and Highland Opportunity Ltd business loans led to the creation or retention of 182 jobs in 2013/14, and Business Gateway assisted 250 business start-ups.
Unemployment across Highland has continued to reduce, youth unemployment has also dropped and the Council has been active in addressing youth employment through a range of measures.
Members discussed the work that the Council and partners have achieved in creating the conditions for growth and jobs in the Highlands through superfast broadband and transport. Mr Black explained that digital connectivity and good transport connections by road, rail, ferry and air are vital to the Highlands as a globally competitive region.
Convener of The Highland Council, Councillor Jimmy Gray welcomed the fact that Highland region has a comparative advantage in the 7 sectors of the economy identified by the Scottish Government as offering particular growth potential.
He said: “With Highland Council’s support - along with our public sector partners - we can make a difference in the energy sector due to its ability to bring high skill and well paid employment to the area. We can also work with the life sciences, food and drink, creative industries, sustainable tourism, financial and business services, and university sectors. We have a lot to be positive about in our growing Highland economy.”
Leader of The Highland Council, Councillor Drew Hendry added: “There’s still a lot to do to make sure that people and families can feel the benefit of the improving economic situation in the Highlands but let’s promote the message of the Highlands being an exciting place to live and do business outside our region. We need to tell everyone about the stunning opportunities that are available in the area. In addition to the 7 sectors identified by the Scottish Government we have our own growth in the Care Sector which is continuing to expand.”