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BUSINESS FOCUS: Infrastructure just one of the challenges facing Highland businesses

By Grant Campbell

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Fiona Hyslop was in Inverness as the new transport secretary recently. Picture: Callum Mackay
Fiona Hyslop was in Inverness as the new transport secretary recently. Picture: Callum Mackay

As the days start to stretch and we seemingly move out of winter, we cannot ignore the fact that here in the Highlands, the change in the climate is one that continues to have an impact on the regional economy.

Our winters are bringing warmer and wetter weather which is having a significant impact on our transport infrastructure and, therefore, the reliability for us to move people, goods and services around – not only within our region but also in terms of our critical links to central Scotland.

Our trunk road network needs significant ongoing investment to ensure it is fit for purpose.

Whilst we all would acknowledge that the A9 dualling is long overdue, it was great to see the new Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Fiona Hyslop in Inverness earlier this month to unveil the dualling timetable and pledge the commitment of Scottish Government to finally getting this done.

It is also important to ensure that investment in the wider network continues in parallel with the A9 and roads such as the A96 Inverness to Nairn gets dualled, the A82 gets widened and made more resilient to weather events and that the A9 north from Inverness sees appropriate safety and traffic flow improvements.

This is especially important given the larger volumes of vehicles which will be using the road in transit to and from the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport.

Grant Campbell.
Grant Campbell.

Our members in tourism and hospitality continue to balance the positive forward bookings for 2024 with the ongoing challenges in terms of staff recruitment and high operational costs.

Our recent Peer Works event at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre convened over 50 organisations to share experiences and knowledge on what can be done to attract and retain talent.

There was commitment from the industry to collaborate more openly and showcase that the reality of working in the industry today is very different to what it was in the past.

It is essential that our region retains its young people and that we reverse the decline in population across our rural communities.

Existing and emerging industries have a key role to play in showcasing the well paid jobs on offer and the pathways
for our young people to follow.

Grant Campbell is Prosper's regional manager for the Highlands and Islands.

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