Welcoming the world
Next Tuesday (1 July), the Queen’s Baton Relay arrives in Lerwick for the first stage of its passage through the Highlands and Islands before it continues its journey around Scotland arriving in Glasgow on 20 July; a visible reminder that Glasgow’s Games are Scotland’s too.
As well as underlining the sense of community that the Games embody, it will reinforce the huge amount of work being done to ensure the event’s impact is felt across the country.
“HIE recognises the huge potential that 2014 – the year ‘Scotland Welcomes the World’ – offers our businesses and communities and we have been working to ensure that our region makes the most of the business opportunities arising from 2014,” said Alison Wilson, Head of Investor Development.
The agency set up a 2014 events team which aims both to ensure that local businesses are aware of opportunities and to use the global attention on Scotland during 2014 as a platform to promote the region as a competitive location. With previous positive experience of working with EventScotland on the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart to engage with existing and potential inward investors, HIE knows the power of such events in promoting the benefits of visiting, living, working, studying and doing business in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
The region has been successfully attracting inward investment in recent years and is already home to over 250 foreign owned businesses, many of whom are household names, and all of whom make a significant contribution to the region’s economy.
But the focus is not just on inward investors. HIE has been working closely with partners and is in regular communication with account managed clients and wider stakeholders across the region. In particular, it has been promoting the Glasgow Business Portal, Ryder Cup contracts via the Public Contracts Scotland portal and VisitScotland’s Homecoming business toolkit.
Working with Scottish Enterprise, HIE was involved in the ‘Geared for Gold’ programme of events to promote the business opportunities arising from contracts for both the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.
And there are some high profile examples of contracts secured by companies from the Highlands and Islands for the Commonwealth Games, including: Keith-based McNaughton Holdings who are weaving the official Team Scotland tartan; Tain-based Metalworks who were involved in construction of the Velodrome; and Foods from Argyll, a social enterprise, which successfully bid for a contract to cater for BBC at the Quay during the Games period.
Another successful contractor for both the Games and the Ryder Cup is Harris Tweed Hebrides who are providing tweed for both Glasgow 2014 merchandise and the official Ryder Cup tweed clothing range. And several food and drink companies from the region have been sub-contracted for the Games.
There will be a unique opportunity for food and drink suppliers the weekend before the Games. Scotland Food and Drink and SDI have arranged for over 80 Scottish food and drink suppliers to meet with 100 global buyers, of which 24 are Highlands and Islands companies.
HIE is also working closely with Scottish Enterprise to ensure there is appropriate representation of companies from across Scotland at the business events during the Games, including at the Commonwealth Games Business Conference and Scotland House, which will attract business people from across the globe.
At Scotland House, the agency is keen to profile Scotland’s business capabilities and key growth sectors, including marine energy, oil and gas, life sciences and food and drink, all of which are strong drivers of growth in the Highlands and Islands, with the potential to attract further investment.
In addition, it is working with local authorities in the Outer Hebrides, Moray and Highlands to run business engagement events during the Queen’s Baton Relay, covering a range of business interests including succession planning and youth employment.
At the Ryder Cup, there will also be a wide range of companies from across Scotland and the rest of the world invited to attend, highlighting and connecting some of Scotland’s most successful businesses and business people. HIE intends to ensure that social enterprises, local business and community organisations, who are all playing a critical role in economic growth, also attend and benefit from this once-in-a-generation event for Scotland.
“We are delighted that our region is playing a significant role in the business associated with these global sporting events,” says Alison. “As well as us taking a little bit of the Highlands and Islands to Glasgow and Gleneagles, there is a lot happening here within the region too. We have the QBR visiting each local authority area and more than 200 Homecoming events taking place across the Highlands and Islands. Inverness will also host one of the Scottish Cities Alliance Global Excellence Conferences with the marine energy conference in September.
“For us the focus has been on ensuring that as many of our businesses as possible know about and are connected with the opportunities arising from this unique year. The legacy of all of this will be more of our companies geared for international trade and additional inward investment for our region.”