Economic development quango Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has set out its blueprint for creating jobs and supporting an inclusive and green economic recovery over the coming year.
Its operating plan for 2021-22 – Action for Jobs and Communities – includes targets to support more than 700 jobs, grow business turnover by more than £80 million and secure £60m-£80m in new capital asset funding, including green investment.
The agency also plans to support 30-40 income-generating assets for communities and increase social economy turnover by £3m-£4m.
Its “resilience” support, meanwhile, will focus on sectors such as tourism and food & drink, as well as the island, rural and disadvantaged areas most impacted by Covid-19 and Brexit.
This is about resilience, restart and green recovery,”
Charlotte Wright, HIE chief executive
HIE will also pursue new opportunities for employment and business growth in evolving sectors such as life sciences, energy, space and the marine economy, where the region has many natural advantages.
Other priorities include supporting projects linked to “population resilience” and recruitment, and accelerating progress in a “just transition” to net-zero emissions.
Collaboration with partners at local, regional and national levels is a theme that will continue to run across all HIE activities, the organisation said.
Charlotte Wright, HIE’s soon-to-depart chief executive, said: “We are delighted to publish our operating plan for the year ahead.
“This is about resilience, restart and green recovery. It’s about developing and pursuing opportunities that will generate significant growth in the medium to long-term, especially in our islands and rural mainland areas. And it’s about attracting talent and retaining rural populations.
‘Strong and passionate voice’
“Jobs and communities are our prime focus, whether we are leading projects, supporting third parties, or working with partners to help create a better future for our region and its people.
“All of this means targeting our resources to maximise benefits, while being a strong and passionate voice for the Highlands and Islands that informs national decisions and attracts additional investment.”
HIE chairman Alistair Dodds added: “This operating plan responds to both the pandemic and the changes introduced by the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“Its development has been informed by our experiences over the past year, by the views of our customers and partners, and by our vision and ambition for this region, which remain as strong as ever.
“We look forward to implementing the plan in ways that benefit all parts of the Highlands and Islands, and ensure our region plays a full role in Scotland’s economic recovery and transition to net-zero.”
HIE latest operating Plan, Action for Jobs and Communities, is available here.