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HIE investment supports Shetland ambitions

28 June 2011

Leaders of Shetland businesses and communities which are working with Highlands and Islands Enterprise met the development agency's most senior people this week (w/b Monday 27 June).

HIE area manager for Shetland Stuart Robertson hosted a two-day visit by Chair William Roe, Chief Executive Alex Paterson and Board member Steve Thomson.

The visitors were in Yell on Monday afternoon (27 June) to meet North Yell Development Council and see the island's Centre for Creative Industries, also known as Global Yell.

In the evening, they discussed issues affecting Yell and other fragile areas with representatives of businesses and communities, including Valhalla Brewery, Baltasound Hotel, Unst Partnership, Northmavine Community Development Company, Fetlar Developments and the Belmont Trust.

Tuesday found them in Lerwick for a progress report from Shetland Arts Development Agency on the ambitious Mareel arts and creative industries centre, followed by a briefing session with HIE's local staff.

An update from Lerwick Port Authority on opportunities in oil and gas decommissioning led into discussions about Shetland's potential for wave and tidal energy with the local multi-agency Marine Renewable Energy Strategy Group.

Before leaving for the airport, they attendied a networking lunch with Shetland business people who had been assisted by HIE to take part in a week-long course at one of the world's leading universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA.

HIE Chief Executive Alex Paterson said it was important for HIE staff and Board members to meet their customers and partners face to face and listen to their views.

"Shetland is home to some fantastic opportunities, ambitious businesses and dynamic communities," said Mr Paterson.

"Mareel is a project of undoubted national significance for example, and the opportunities which are being developed in oil and gas decommissioning, and in renewable energy have tremendous potential to accelerate economic growth.

"Superfast broadband is also going to be a great enabler for communities and businesses in Shetland, as it will be in other parts of the Highlands and Islands.

"A big part of HIE's role across the region is to work with the ambitious people who are driving our businesses, social enterprises and communities, and to help them define and deliver their goals for growth.

"To do that effectively, it's important that we have regular contact, and discuss the issues that really matter to local people.

"Our area staff in Shetland are working closely day in, day out with a range of partner organisations and business and community leaders.

"That's how you really get to understand what drives people, and to shape what HIE can offer to help them grow and achieve their potential.

"It's incredibly valuable for our Board members, and senior staff to spend time in all of the areas we cover, both to see the impact that HIE's investments are making today and to inform our future decisions."

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