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Positive year for Highland Enterprise Trust

Issued: 1 Nov 2010

Highland Opportunity Ltd, The Highland Council's Enterprise Trust, has completed another positive year in which £900,000 of loans were approved for 50 Highland businesses.

Speaking at the company's 24th annual meeting, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Councillor Helen Carmichael praised the performance of staff, particularly in more than doubling their target of supporting 426 jobs.

HOL which is wholly owned by The Highland Council, offers a wide range of financial assistance, business support, youth services, and European Consultancy to small and medium sized businesses. It was established in 1986 to help create new jobs, improve access to employment and foster business activity and trade.

The annual report highlighted that HOL delivered a sixth and final year of management of a contract called "Working for Families" which aims to remove obstacles to parents entering education, training and employment. At the year end 1,400 families across the Highlands have received assistance. HOL also operates the Employment Grant Scheme on behalf of the Highland Council and from 2009 to 2010, 108 jobs received support.

On behalf of The Highland Council, HOL delivers Business Gateway through a network of eight offices across Highland and Moray. In the Highland area during its first year of operating, Business Gateway has dealt with 1,426 referrals and recorded 167 business start ups.

Chairman, Councillor Helen Carmichael said: "In a very challenging year for businesses I am pleased to report that HOL has been working hard to provide as much assistance and support as possible. We are very proactive to the problems businesses are facing and I was particularly pleased that, with assistance from the European Regional Development Fund, we were able to launch a special financial service , the Highland Business Growth Fund which offers businesses an interest free loan with no capital repayments for 2 years as a means of leveraging bank loans during the recession.

"I am also pleased to report that we have exceeded the annual target set for the number of full time jobs retained or created. Our target was 16O and the actual was 426 which is a very positive step. Over the coming year our focus will be on ensuring we are in a strong position to stimulate economic activity, promote the start up and growth of business ventures, help to create new jobs and improve people's access to employment."

HOL can be contacted via www.highland-opportunity.com/ Telephone 01463 228 340.

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme