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Highlands and Islands Enterprise submits evidence to the Enterprise Network Review

03 September 2010

Highlands and Islands Enterprise submits evidence to the Enterprise Network Review

Friday 3 September was the closing date for written submissions to be sent to the review of Scotland's enterprise network being conducted by the Scottish Parliament's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee.

HIE's submission argues that the economic fortunes of the Highlands and Islands have experienced a dramatic turnaround since the mid-1960s.

It points to indicators like growth in the region's population, which is up by 20 per cent, while the number of people in work has increased even more, by 50 per cent.

A distinctive feature of the HIE model is that it integrates both economic and community development.

This unique blend of powers, HIE argues, makes it ideally suited to address the challenges and opportunities of a largely rural region which covers more than half of Scotland's land mass, yet is home to less than 10 per cent of the country's population.

"HIE's experience over decades demonstrates that that social interventions are often the most effective way of underpinning and stimulating economic growth," HIE says in its submission.

"In rural areas, it is virtually impossible to make an economic intervention that does not impact on the social fabric, and vice versa. This dual remit provides HIE with a route to the heart of the communities it serves.

"HIE's historic success stands up to scrutiny alongside the best rural agencies in the world," the statement continues. "But the job is not done."

Future challenges which the agency has in its sights include maximising the enormous potential of renewable energy for the region and ensuring the Highlands and Islands benefits from superfast broadband, with connectivity on a par with the rest of the country.

Its ambitions also include enabling the growth of higher education; helping to attract more young people; increasing international trade, and addressing the ongoing challenges of fragile areas, including the Outer Hebrides.

You can read HIE's full submission below.

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