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Chamber Matters: Youth Entrepreneurship

Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, talks about the importance of youth entrepreneurship to the economic future of Caithness.

Over the past year, I’ve been involved in working with Young Enterprise groups in Caithness and Sutherland, working in particular with one team from Wick High School. Watching this group of young people build their first business has been a fantastic, inspiring experience and it has once again highlighted to me the importance of entrepreneurial spirit to the future of Caithness.

This importance has been further highlighted by some of the work the Chamber is doing with the Caithness Business Fund, helping young businesspeople get the support they need during those first, difficult months of developing their idea.

The rundown of Dounreay is continuing apace and, while timescales for some aspects of the decommissioning have been extended, it’s clear that the work on site is coming to an end and with it, the economic security that such a large employer offers the area.

Efforts to attract inward investment to the county continue to be made, and the offshore renewables industry continues to show huge potential to benefit the area. However, it’s unlikely that Caithness will ever again be able to rely on the security offered by a single, large employer such as Dounreay.

I believe we need to do everything we can to inspire and support the next generation of entrepreneurs, those young people with the drive and passion to build new businesses from the ground up.

Our Young Enterprise teams have already seen success at the Young Enterprise Awards, with Wick High School coming 3rd in the Highland and Moray section and Farr High School going even further, winning the award for Best Presentation at the national awards in London.

In years to come, many of those young people will start a business of their own which, with a little support, will grow to offer more employment in the area, bring money into the county and help to secure our economic future.

That’s why, for the past four years, the Chamber has held its Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, designed to showcase and support young people in the area who have shown they have what it takes to succeed in business.

A little support offered in the early stages of starting a business can have major effects in years to come, and many of the previous winners of the award have gone on to great success.

Entries are currently open for this year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and I would urge you to get involved. Whether you’re a young businessperson looking to take your business to the next level, or you know a young entrepreneur whose efforts you’d like to see recognised, then get in touch.

To find out more about the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2014 and to enter, contact Caithness Chamber of Commerce on 01847 890076 or info@caithnesschamber.com.