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
A drop in event. Seaview Hotel, John O'Groats.
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The Board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has welcomed Professor Lorne Crerar's report on proposed governance arrangements to support the outcomes of the Scottish Government's Enterprise and Skills Review. These recommendations would ensure that a HIE Board effectively remains in place.
Young people in Caithness and Lochaber will be among the first in Scotland to benefit from new Norwegian style learning centres. The centres are aimed at helping young people pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and digital (STEMD).
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.
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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.
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