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Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch makes top five in business hotspot list

By Calum MacLeod

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Debbie and Ronald Mackenzie of Cruise Loch Ness were UK FSB winners in 2019.
Debbie and Ronald Mackenzie of Cruise Loch Ness were UK FSB winners in 2019.

The north has been confirmed as Scotland's entrepreneurial hotspot after a survey revealed the Highlands and the North East dominate a list of Scottish Parliamentary constituencies with the highest number of businesses.

As part of its campaign to find Scotland’s best smaller firms, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed which MSPs have the largest local business communities.

While Edinburgh Central and Glasgow Kelvin topped the FSB list, seven of the top 10 constituencies in terms of number of local firms are in the Highlands or the North East.

Three of these constituencies are in the Highland Council area: Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, which came fifth on the list with 4910 businesses, followed by Caithness, Sutherland and Ross with 4715, while Inverness and Nairn was in eighth place with 4255 firms.

Kate Forbes MSP
Kate Forbes MSP

Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “Raised in the Highlands and now with a Highland constituency – the largest and in some ways most fragmented in Scotland – I am well aware of the vital roles that small, independent businesses play both in their local economies and communities and within Scotland as a whole.

“Anyone who thinks that there’s no point – that winners always come from the south – should perhaps consider why it is that the FSB’s last two UK Small Businesses of the Year have both come from the Highlands; in fact from my constituency!

"We need more Highlands and Islands winners and there’s all to play for, so please give it some thought.”

The last two UK-wide winners have been Fort Augustus-based Cruise Loch Ness, who won UK Small Business of the Year 2019, and Woodlands Glencoe who beat more than 3100 entrants to scoop the accolade in 2020.

The figures have been collated ahead of FSB’s Celebrating Small Business Awards 2022, which have seen the UK’s overall winners come from Scotland for the last two years. The awards are free to enter and open to members and non-members alike.

There are 12 categories for the Scotland-leg of the awards: international, sustainability, micro business, start-up business, high growth business, family, young entrepreneur (aged 30 and under), wellbeing, community award, business product and innovation, self-employed or sole trader, and digital and e-commerce.

Winners will go on to compete at the UK final in May 2022 in Glasgow.

The Federation of Small Businesses’ Highlands and Islands development manager, David Richardson, said: “We know both from our own research and from that of others that people in the Highlands and Islands are more entrepreneurial than in any other Scottish region and that the Highlands is home to Scotland’s two most entrepreneurial towns: Ullapool and Newtonmore. In these uncertain times we should be brightening our lives by celebrating success, and there is no better way for businesses to do so than by entering our FSB Awards.

"This region has always punched way above its weight, and we hope to do so again at the 2022 FSB Awards final.”

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “After such a tough year for all, we’re excited to celebrate the achievements of Scotland’s small business community.

“Across the length and breadth of Scotland, local and independent businesses play a key role. We’re on the hunt for firms who demonstrate the best of this vital sector.

“The North of Scotland really has a formidable record when it comes to these awards. Could another UK-wide winner come from this patch?”

Kevin O’Toole, managing director of headline sponsor Sky Connect, said: “The resilience, innovation and creativity that small business owners have shown over the last 12 months is awe-inspiring.

“At Sky Connect our mission is to help small businesses succeed, stay connected to their customers and bounce back even stronger post-pandemic. We’re thrilled to become headline sponsor of FSB’s Celebrating Small Business Awards and help recognise and celebrate their vast achievements.”

Scottish businesses have until February 13 2022 to lodge their awards application at fsbawards.co.uk

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