A novel approach in combining the skills of the private and public sectors is being tried in Caithness and North Sutherland.
A senior project manager with internationally renowned engineering services company Babcock International is working on secondment with HIE.
Chartered Engineer Simon Coles, who is general manager of the Babcock Forss office supporting operations at Dounreay, is involved in a project to grow inward investment opportunities.
Simon, who has worked in the area for 15 years, will be leading proactive work from HIE in attracting companies to invest and locate in Caithness. He will be working closely with local partners, the recently established Caithness Ambassadors and other government agencies including Scottish Development International.
Roy Kirk, HIE area manager for Caithness and North Sutherland said: "HIE is all about working in partnership, whether with the private sector or with our colleagues in Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership. Babcock, as one of the largest employers in the area, has a good overview on what attracts the private sector.
"We want to further develop a climate for private companies to flourish. This type of interaction allows us to have a direct link into a number of developments that are happening in the private sector and to continue to diversify our economy to encourage businesses to locate or grow here. We also see the opportunity to develop our learning in new ways and new approaches to working."
Simon is also a member of the Board for Decom North Sea, which was established with HIE, Scottish Enterprise and the Department of Energy and Climate Change to support the decommissioning supply chain. Locally he is involved with the Pulteneytown Peoples project. He says he was keen to look at how closer links between the private and public sector could help provide a more rounded view on creating opportunities to develop the future economy of the area.
"Caithness and North Sutherland has many opportunities and two of the main ones are in the areas of energy and business services; both sectors we have a strong history in supporting. These sectors are quite broad and we need to focus on well defined opportunities within them," said Simon.
The secondment is for a year and Simon hopes he can bring some additional structure and momentum in the delivery of inward investment activities.
He added: "The private and public collaboration is valuable for the economic development of the area. By bringing the skills and resources of both together we can ensure we develop projects that will deliver the best benefits."
Highlands and Islands Enterprise is a member of the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership.
About Simon Coles:
Simon is a Chartered Engineer; and a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Nuclear Institute. He has a degree in Nuclear Engineering from Manchester University and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Cranfield University. He is also a Member of the Chartered Management Institute.
He has worked at Sellafield and Dounreay in project and engineering management roles.