Delighted to see the news this week that Ashley Ann Ltd has announced its purchase of the former Caithness Glass premises in Wick, allowing it to further expand its capacity, creating new jobs. The move has been backed by an investment of £190,000 from CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) http://news.hie.co.uk/all-news/caithness-firm-set-to-expand/
Our local CNSRP partners held a very successful “Jobs and How To Get Them” event at Wick High School last Saturday (see my online blog for images). Once again the event attracted several hundred attendees, together with over 40 exhibiting businesses and support organisations. It was particularly pleasing to see the marked increase in the use of both Virtual and Augmented Reality as an exhibiting tool, with Norscot Joinery showing off its innovative AR headset which is a finalist (with its partner the University of Strathclyde) at next week’s Scottish Knowledge Exchange awards.
A key underpinning requirement in our continuing efforts to support economic growth is having good physical and digital connectivity. Last week I mentioned the progress being made in the procurement of the contract to improve the A9 at Berriedale Braes, and two other transport-related pieces have been highlighted again this week. Firstly, the announcement of a Sunday flight between Aberdeen and Wick John O Groats airport has been welcomed by local representatives, including Trudy Morris who is both CEO of CNSRP partner Caithness Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Wick John O Groats Airport Consultative Committee. As I have previously mentioned, the Chamber is currently leading on a piece of work to scope future air provision from Wick, so this is a very welcome move by Eastern Airways. https://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Wick-to-have-Sunday-air-link-with-Aberdeen-14022018.htm Secondly, HITRANS (the Regional Transport Authority for the Highlands and Islands) has reported good progress with the feasibility work to understand the potential for a sleeper service between Caithness and Central Scotland. Referred to by HITRANS with the slightly tongue-in-cheek title of “Midnight Train to Georgemas” this very interesting work should be published on its website soon. https://hitrans.org.uk/Meetings/Partnership_Board
As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:
Whilst in Inverness this week on business it was good to catch up with Emma and Andrew of the Highlands and Islands Science Skills Partnership. They have been working on the procurement of a contractor to take forward the creation of a “Newton Room” at North Highland College in Thurso. The space is designed to act as a hub for providing inspirational learning opportunities in STEM subjects, and once completed will be the first Newton Room in the UK. I look forward to meeting representatives of the team when they are in the north next week.