Chamber Matters: Funding Regeneration
Published 26 Oct 2014Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, talks about the Chamber’s work as the managing agent of the North Highland Regeneration Fund and the work the Fund does to support small businesses in the area
With the eighth Annual General Meeting of the North Highland Regeneration Fund (NHRF) just past, I would like to take this opportunity to talk a little more about the work the Fund does in the area, and how the Chamber helps achieve its goals.
As managing agent for North Highland Regeneration Fund, the Chamber is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Fund’s activities – meeting with potential loan clients, assessing applications, and offering support to existing clients. In addition, we help market the Fund and put on events throughout the year, including the Fund’s AGM.
It’s been a busy year for NHRF. We started the year off with a major rebrand, producing a suite of new marketing materials and revamping the Fund’s website. The new brand was then officially launched at an event at the Castle of Mey, which offered local businesses the chance to talk to NHRF team members and previous recipients of support about what the Fund could offer their business.
We’ve also continued the Fund’s work to support young people in the area. I’ve spoken before in these columns about the importance of supporting youth entrepreneurship, and I’m delighted that, through our work with the Fund, we’ve been able to support aspiring young businesspeople in the area.
At last week’s AGM, we ran a “Dragons’ Den” style event for young enterprise groups from Wick and Thurso High Schools and the North Highland College, giving young people the chance to present their business ideas to local business leaders. The teams were fantastic – they clearly put a lot of hard work and enthusiasm into their ideas – and it was great to be able to offer them this experience, which will give them confidence for their future endeavours.
The Fund has also continued to support young businesspeople in the area, this year offering support to Dunnet Bay Distillers, fast becoming one of the area’s rising stars. Run by husband and wife team Claire and Martin Murray, Dunnet Bay Distillers has gone from strength to strength since launching their flagship product, Rock Rose Gin, earlier this year.
Their first batch sold out in just two days, and they now have customers in over 20 countries. Claire also recently won the Excellence in Export & Innovation Award at the UK-wide Mentorsme “Excellence in Women’s Enterprise Mentoring 2014” awards – a fantastic achievement for Claire and a real win for Caithness.
All in all it’s been a busy year, and I’m proud that the Chamber has been able to play a part in the important work that NHRF does for the local economy.