Business leaders in Moray believe the region is still riding the crest of a wave borne out of adversity a decade ago.
More start-up firms than ever before are surviving three years in the region with the rate rising from 78% to 86% since 2015.
Yesterday the resilience of small and medium-sized firms were praised by the chamber of commerce for providing a strong “backbone” to the local economy.
However, warnings have been made that despite a current “buoyant” market, the growth of small firms has slowed in recent months amid Brexit concerns.
Craig Robertson, senior area business manager for Business Gateway in Moray, explained a collaborative spirit in the region has encouraged new companies to thrive.
He said: “Start-ups come in cycles. When things are good and there’s a high employment rate then people tend to stay away from self-employment.
“When things are struggling, like they were about eight or 10 years ago with the national problems and the doubts about the RAF here, then there’s a surge to self-employment. To a certain extent, we’re still seeing the effects of that today.
“There’s a buoyancy on the High Street with less vacant properties. There are still some, that’s the nature of retail now, but it feels more positive now.
“To be honest, in the last three or four months we have seen business owners who have been looking to grow question the effect of Brexit as it comes closer – there’s still a lot of uncertainty there for people who want to export products out of the UK.”
A total of 128 new firms were set up in Moray between April 2017 and March 2018 – supporting nearly 200 jobs across the region.
The latest count of empty properties in Elgin’s town centre showed the total had dropped to its lowest amount since 2014.
Meanwhile, the rate of start-up surviving the first year currently stands at 92%.
Mr Robertson added: “It’s an easy thing to start a business but not easy to stay in business.
“We get 70 to 80 inquiries a month – some have an idea, some want to grow, some need advice about regulatory stuff. They’re not all entrepreneurs, some just want a bit of extra income.”
Sarah Medcraf, chief executive of Moray Chamber of Commerce, explained the importance of small firms to the local economy could not be underestimated.
She said: “There are just over 3,500 business in Moray and 88% of them account for micro businesses, who have less than 10 employees.
“These businesses are the backbone or our economy and provide valuable products, services and jobs.
“It shows our businesses here are working tirelessly to be resilient to the large number of issues facing business and are battling their ongoing troubles to be successful.”