Economic optimism as Highlands and Islands attract over £1.1m in investments

Economic optimism as Highlands and Islands attract over £1.1m in investments

Vicky Grant (credit: Gillian Frampton/HIE)

The financial year has gotten off to a good start for the Highlands and Islands region and has a promising outlook for inward investment.

Vicky Grant, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s (HIE) head of international trade and investment, highlighted in her recent blog that this year has already witnessed the confirmation of four projects. These represent a combined investment exceeding £1.1 million, anticipated to generate over 65 new jobs in the region.

With optimism about the future, Ms Grant highlighted the ongoing robust pipeline of around 50 enquiries from companies expressing interest in the region, with nine in advanced stages of engagement and an additional 60 in early stages.

Ms Grant said: “It probably goes without saying that investment from companies owned outside of Scotland is crucial in growing the economy of the Highlands and Islands.

“We only have to look at some of the previous projects led by many of the region’s largest employers to see the impact it can have.

“In recent years there’s BASF in the Outer Hebrides, Orbex in Moray, LifeScan in Inverness, and Webhelp in Argyll. These are all companies owned elsewhere but making significant investment in the region.

“The current interest in the region continues to be diverse and across many sectors. Space, health technology and life sciences all feature strongly, but energy is definitely the dominant theme.”

The designation of the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport has particularly spurred additional energy-related enquiries, not limited to the freeport site but extending to wider supply chain opportunities across the region.

Japanese company, Sumitomo Electric Industries, has also unveiled plans earlier this year to launch a subsea electric cable manufacturing plant in the Highlands, a project HIE is nurturing in conjunction with Scottish Development International and other partners. This endeavour could potentially usher in £250m in new investment and facilitate the creation of 150 new jobs.

Ms Grant added: “It takes many months, often years, for inward investment projects to come to fruition but with interest at its current level, we can be optimistic about attracting many new projects in the years ahead.”

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