Highlands and Islands Business Survey - Latest Findings Published
21st December 2016
The latest findings of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Business Panel survey have been published (Tuesday 20 December).
A total of 1,004 businesses throughout the region took part in the survey between 29 September and 3 November.
While overall confidence in Scotland's economy remains low, over four fifths (82%) of respondents reported good or steady performance in their own business over the past 12 months, and 89% anticipate growth or stability in the next two years.
Over a third (36%) of companies that export from the region reported an increase in exports in the past six months.
There are varying views from businesses in the Highlands and Islands on the importance of access to the European single market and free movement of people across the European Union. While many do not currently see these as being important to the operation of their business, there is a clear cohort that do.
Most (65%) of exporting companies felt that access to the single market was important. More than half (55%) of tourism businesses and larger businesses (57%) with 25 or more employees felt free movement of people across the EU was important.
Larger companies also expressed concern over potentially shrinking labour markets following the UK's departure from the EU. The vast majority (91%) of non-UK EU nationals employed in the region are permanent staff. Larger firms and companies in the tourism sector are more likely to be employers of this group.
Carroll Buxton, HIE's director of regional development, said: "The feedback that businesses across the region have been performing well and are optimistic about the future is good news. Clearly there are uncertainties and concerns over what lies ahead but the evidence suggests continuing resilience in the business community. This will be linked to the diversity of small to medium sized companies and the strength of our growth sectors, such as tourism, food and drink and life sciences. We look forward to continuing our work in supporting these growth businesses and sectors and maintaining that resilience, which will be crucial as we move forward.
The panel survey findings build understanding and track the potential implications of the UK's vote to leave the European Union for businesses in the region. Findings are shared with Scottish Government and other partners to ensure that they are kept informed of the impacts on the Highlands and Islands business community.
The HIE Business Panel Survey report is available at http://www.hie.co.uk/businesspanel
Ten wave energy development projects have been awarded a total of £3 million by Wave Energy Scotland. The projects, devised by individual companies and partnerships, will explore the potential of different materials and processes in the production of wave energy converters (WECs); devices that convert ocean waves into electricity.
Plans for a multi-million pound research and innovation campus in Stromness in Orkney are set to go ahead after the two organisations behind the venture agreed funding for the project. The 3.75-acre campus will support the growth of existing research and innovation activity and the expansion of companies in Orkney's world-leading marine renewables, energy and low carbon sector.
The level of income required to afford a socially acceptable standard of living and to participate in society is ten to thirty per cent more expensive in remote rural Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. The report on Minimum Income Standard for Remote Rural Scotland 2016, published today (Wednesday 30 November), was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Enterprise (SE), the Rural and Islands Housing Association Forum (RIHAF) and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA).
The chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has said he is fully confident about the future of the organisation. Responding to reports this week, speculating about the agencies future following the Scottish Government's review of enterprise and skills bodies, Professor Lorne Crerar, said he had had absolute reassurance from Scottish Government that HIE will continue in its present form.
Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson is seeking clarification from Depute First Minister John Swinney about reports claiming that the Board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise is to be scrapped and replaced with a centralised committee. Councillor Davidson said: "If it is correct - it is totally unacceptable that the Scottish Government is to centralise the decision-making powers of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
The Highlands and Islands will see more fibre broadband coverage for homes and businesses into 2017, thanks to the early success of the region's Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project. Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the rural economy and connectivity, announced today (31 October) that strong take up figures mean that an additional £2.3m is being re-invested back into the project.
Community and independently owned shops selling groceries in remote and rural parts of the Highlands and Islands are being asked to take part in a survey into the role they play in sustaining communities. The survey will help understand the factors affecting rural shops, and the strategies that could be adopted to remain sustainable and adapt to changing market conditions.
Grow your international online sales. If your business is already selling online, or you're thinking about starting an online sales operation, why not consider the international marketplace? With the right information, set-up and skills, your business could capitalise on the wealth of opportunities available beyond the UK.
A survey of businesses in the Highlands and Islands has reported that although companies remain optimistic about their own prospects, there has been a decline in confidence in Scotland's economic outlook since the UK's EU referendum. A total of 1,054 businesses located throughout the region took part in the survey carried out by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in July and August, exploring business confidence and investment.
Optimism from Scotland's wave and tidal energy sectors, fuelled by the Meygen's product launch on Monday, boosted delegates at Scottish Renewables' Marine Conference in Inverness this week. Recent successes from Scotrenewables, Nova Innovation and Sustainable Marine Energy have been complemented by the launch of the world's largest tidal stream energy scheme.
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