Like much of the Highlands and Islands, Inner Moray Firth has a strong public administration sector, accounting for 23 per cent of the area's £2.3 billion GVA. Inverness, an ancient Burgh, was given the status of a city at the Millennium. It acts as the region’s capital and hosts the headquarters of some of Scotland’s other public agencies such as the Forestry Commission and Scottish Natural Heritage.
Other sectors accounting for thousands of jobs include manufacturing (16 per cent), wholesale and retail (15 per cent), and financial and business services (14 per cent).
The energy sector has been highly significant in the past, and looks set for a strong future. Nigg Energy Park, at the entrance to the Cromarty Firth, has been developed on the site of a former fabrication yard during the boom years of North Sea oil and gas development in the late 20th century. It can continue to boast being the site of Europe's largest dry dock. It remains a prime asset for the region, with considerable potential in 21st century renewable energy manufacturing and assembly. At the same time, oil and gas continue to play a key role in the region's energy sector.
A short distance further up the Firth lies the Port of Invergordon, once a major naval base because of its deep water and sheltered aspect. The port has recently started a £31m investment to expand its quayside having successfully secured, in the face of competition from non-UK ports surrounding the North Sea, the contract to host the assembly of wind generator towers for Moray East. Highlands and Islands Enterprise and ERDF assisted the project with assistance amounting to £7.75m.
The area first gained a foothold in the global life sciences sector when HIE helped Inverness Medical set up in the 1990s.
As Lifescan Scotland, the business now employs around 1,000 people developing and manufacturing self-test kits for people with diabetes. It is Scotland's biggest life sciences business, and at the centre of a growing cluster which includes a number of smaller employers.
LifeScan works closely with the Centre for Health Science, next to Raigmore Hospital. The centre was developed by HIE as a hub for life sciences in the region, and incorporates university teaching and research with laboratory, lecture and business incubator space.
Inner Moray Firth includes several of Scotland's premier visitor attractions and the tourism sector has been a vital part of the economy for many years.
The historic Inverness Castle, following the transfer of the court to a new site, is planned to become a world-class visitor attraction. And an additional 300+ rooms will be added to the accommodation over the next three years.
HIE is working with the local industry to ensure the area's tourism product meets visitors' high expectations and continues to have a bright future.