Community groups from across the Highlands and Islands are working with HIE to take forward their own local development plans. Some are buying local assets or investing in community services. Some are looking to attract more visitors or improve digital connectivity. And some are taking forward ambitious renewable energy projects.
As the Government’s economic development agency for the region, we recognise that economic and community development goes hand in hand in creating a wealthier and fairer society. This is why we have strengthening communities as one of four strategic priorities.
Underpinning this is Community Account Management (CAM), an approach where, working in partnership with local authorities and other public agencies, we engaged with selected communities to provide support for them to identify and realise their aspirations. This has evolved into Community Capacity Building, where we invest in a range of support for communities taking part in CAM, communities at a critical stage in the achievement of significant revenue streams, and communities or social enterprises making a significant advancement in their overall resilience.
Through CCB, we aim to invest in between 60 and 80 communities and social enterprises across the Highlands and Islands. Communities are controlling and driving their own development, with HIE on hand providing support. Match funding for the programme comes from a range of sources, notably the Scottish Government’s Strengthening Communities Programme and the communities themselves.
A new CCB publication produced by HIE in October 2015 gives a flavour of the variety of work our investments are supporting, and a number of case studies were produced in 2016.
Representatives from 27 communities around the Highlands and Islands gathered in Inverness in April 2017 to share experiences and hear about help and support available for community development projects. The event was hosted by HIE’s Strengthening Communities team and included workshop sessions and presentations covering topics including rural housing, community empowerment and land reform, community broadband and volunteering.