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Conference in Portree set to shape future of the west coast economy

Published: 08/03/2024

An event in Portree on 19 March is expected to attract business leaders and policy makers from across the west coast and be a catalyst for shaping the area’s future.

The West Coast Vision Conference on Economic Resilience is being hosted by Lochaber Chamber of Commerce with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as the first step in devising an action plan to unlock new opportunities.

It has been organised to help develop a collective approach to addressing challenges and capitalising on the area’s potential, which the organisers believe is ‘enormous’ and could make a huge contribution to Scotland’s economy.

Delegates will explore the potential and challenges of business on the west coast, including reviewing case studies and how lessons learned could be applied to new ventures. They’ll hear from keynote speakers from a business, cultural, economic, and political perspective.

They include leading economist Professor Graeme Roy of the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, who will talk about the scale of opportunities in the West Highlands at the moment and explore different approaches to funding large infrastructure projects.

Alasdair Ferguson, managing director of Ferguson Transport and Kishorn Port, will provide an insight into recent expansions at Kishorn drydock and the scale of ambition the company has to grow in the coming years, creating more jobs and prosperity in Wester Ross and beyond.

Catherine MacLeod former political editor and special adviser will be posing questions about how to build a compelling case for infrastructure investment in the west coast, and a cultural perspective will come from Maggie Cunningham, cultural advocate and president of An Comunn Gàidhealach.

Frazer Coupland, chief executive of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, said:

“Our west coast community has always known the power of working together. We're excited to bring our local business community together to hear their thoughts on unlocking the potential of our area. We're inviting all businesses to come and be part of the effort to create a collective vision for the west coast...and have a great day doing it!”

Alastair Nicolson, HIE area manager for Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, said:

“The potential of the west coast to contribute to Scotland’s economy and support thriving businesses and communities is enormous. To make the most of this, we need to collaborate and innovate. And that’s what this event is about.

“It will give local businesses a chance to examine opportunities and challenges and help shape a strategic, resilient future for the west coast economy. We expect lively discussion around the sheer scale of the area’s potential, what works well and what doesn’t, and how best to take things forward. We very much look forward to welcoming people to what promises to be a very insightful and productive day.”

Sign up for the event at


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