A near-£1.2 million community project to build four “light commercial” business units on Tiree has had a £395,000 boost.
The cash injection is from economic development quango Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Three of the units planned at Crossapol – about three miles from Tiree’s main settlement of Scarinish – will be about 430sq ft and the other will be nearly 646sq ft.
They have all been designed with environmental sustainability in mind, so boast high-grade insulation, air source heat pumps and roof-mounted, south-facing solar panels.
The plan is to make them available to local businesses on “affordable” leases.
A community survey in 2019 highlighted the need for suitable premises to allow existing firms to grow and new businesses to be established.
Tiree is the most westerly of the Inner Hebridean islands off Scotland’s west coast.
At four hours by ferry from Oban, it is among the most remote communities in Scotland. As such, it faces challenges around retaining a resilient resident population.
According to southernhebrides.com, the island’s population is currently around 770.
Investment in new business units worth about £1,500 for each islander
As such, the total investment by Tiree Community Enterprise (TCE) is worth about £1,500 for every adult and child on Tiree.
It is expected to result in the creation of three new jobs on the island and support a further seven.
TCE was created in 2020 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Tiree Community Development Trust (TCDT) to deliver and manage large capital regeneration projects on the island.
TCDT general manager Phyl Meyer said: “Tiree has great need of modern, energy-efficient commercial space for small business use.
“The community is particularly keen to support year-round work opportunities that will enhance the long-term sustainability of our economy and population, and that’s where these new units will be targeted.
“We’ve had a lot of interest, and it’s great to see how people are coming together to make joint proposals that will maximise the usage and benefit of each unit. We’ve had this project in our development plan for some years and are delighted with the support of HIE and our other funders at Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Government to get them built.”
HIE area manager Morag Goodfellow said: “Suitable business premises is essential to any local economy. This project… will provide modern efficient premises for small businesses. It will stimulate more collaboration between businesses, which will likely lead to new economic opportunities and valuable rural employment.
“All of this helps strengthen community resilience and retain young economically active people in this very rural location. It will also generate income for TCE and enable the group to progress other community projects that benefit the island.”
Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said Scotland’s remote, rural and island communities faced “significant and unique challenges“.
He added: “As well as creating new jobs, this funding will help to address the needs of local businesses and communities. I look forward to hearing about how businesses and residents in Tiree are benefitting from these units.”
TCDT’s first project was to secure a community fuel station. It is now fully operational.