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Chamber Matters: Supporting Local Business

John Thurso MP, Chairman of the Board of North Highland Regeneration Fund and Patron of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, discussed the important work the Fund does in supporting local businesses.

Caithness and North Sutherland have a proud history of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. From Alexander Bain, inventor of the electric clock and the fax machine, through the pioneering work in nuclear power generation carried out at the Dounreay Fast Reactor, this tradition is carried on to the present day with the work of local high-tech companies such as Denchi Power, Kongsberg Maritime and KP Technology.

However, recent times have proven hard for businesses in the area. The decommissioning and eventual shutdown of the Dounreay site will have – indeed, is already having – a significant impact on local companies reliant on the work the site has provided.

As if that weren’t enough, the events of the global financial crisis and subsequent recession have led to conventional lenders becoming far more risk-averse and unwilling to provide much-needed funding to small and medium enterprises.

That’s why I’m proud to serve as chairman of the Board of the North Highland Regeneration Fund, which was set up by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to take risks the banks won’t by providing low-cost loans to local businesses keen to carry on this county’s proud history.

Over the seven years since its inception, the invaluable investments made by the Fund have resulted in over £1.4m being loaned to over 40 local businesses, resulting in the creation and safeguarding of over 200 local jobs.

On 26th May, the Fund team will be holding a reception and information event at the Castle of Mey, offering local businesses the chance to talk to the team about the support the Fund can offer, as well as to meet with previous recipients of Fund support to find out how it’s helped their companies. In addition, Michael Cohrs, Member of Court at the Bank of England, will be delivering a special keynote address.

In years to come, this area will not be able to depend on the security and prosperity offered by a single large employer. Its future will instead depend on the success of local entrepreneurs, those who have a vision and the ambition to see it through, and the North Highland Regeneration Fund will be there to ensure that local businesses get the support they need to develop their full potential.

For more information on the event at the Castle of Mey, or to find out what support the Fund can offer your business, please contact the NHRF team on 01847 500103.