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Call for businesses to support economic health check

20 November 2012

Businesses and social enterprises are being invited to play their part in a quarterly temperature check of the region’s economy being gathered by HIE.

The results will provide an ongoing picture of business confidence, growth aspirations, access to finance and the labour market to help inform the business community on challenges and opportunities facing the area.

Almost 350 businesses and social enterprises across a variety of sectors have already signed up to be part of an online business panel.

Findings from the first survey have highlighted that while the region’s businesses experienced mixed fortunes in performance over the last year, confidence for the future remains high.

Almost 40% of businesses said they had performed well or exceptionally well, a similar number indicated they had struggled and the remainder reported that business had been fairly steady. Of the same businesses and social enterprises 70% and 79% respectively expressed optimism about business prospects for the coming two years.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE, said: “Our plan is to run quarterly surveys covering a wide range of topics, including questions about business confidence, optimism and performance, enabling us to monitor trends over time.

“The information gathered will give an up to date health check on our local economy.  This will support the wider business community identify new opportunities and look for ways to tackle shared challenges.

“Up to date information direct from the businesses and social enterprises themselves will also help ensure that public resource is targeted in the areas that will make the greatest difference in supporting the region’s economic growth.”

The first survey findings include:

Businesses which performed well are more likely to be engaged in overseas trade;

Access to finance remains a challenge for some businesses, although optimism and strong performance are translating into higher success rates in securing new finance;

Labour supply issues are prominent across the region, with specialist, trained and experienced individuals being difficult to recruit;

Businesses are taking action to counter challenges from depressed demand and high transport costs.  Strategies include diversification, efficiency savings, enhanced marketing and promotion, and improving product/service offering.

The survey findings have been shared with the business panel and their implications have been discussed by HIE’s senior management and by the HIE board.  Key issues emerging from the survey have also been shared with the Scottish Government.

The agency is keen to grow the numbers of businesses and social enterprises taking part in the online business panel.

Mr Paterson said: “It’s important that the panel is representative of our region.  The larger and more representative the panel, the more detailed insights we will be able to draw into the issues affecting specific areas or sectors.”

Businesses can sign up here and the next survey will take place in January 2013.

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