New business start-ups on the rise in isles despite recession

The number of new business start-ups in Shetland rose by almost a quarter in 2008 in spite of the savage economic downturn.

Eighty-four new firms were created in 2008, 22 per cent up on the 66 new start-ups in 2007. It means Shetland was one of only two local authority areas in Scotland to record an increase in the number of new businesses year-on-year, providing further evidence that the isles’ economy has emerged relatively unharmed by the global financial crisis to date.

No figures are available to demonstrate how many of these firms have managed to stay in business, but the council is hoping to undertake detailed analysis to find out more.

SIC head of organisational development John Smith told members of the audit and scrutiny committee on Wednesday that both the council’s economic development unit and Highlands and Islands Enterprise were doing what they could to generate a thriving private sector in a community which remains heavily dominated by public bodies.

Around a third of people within the working age population are employed by the council in some form, not including the hundreds of workers employed by charitable trust-funded organisations and other public bodies including NHS Shetland.

Referring to Shetland’s traditionally low level of unemployment and the difficulties inherent in attracting new blood to the isles, Mr Smith said: “It’s not a lack of ideas but a shortage of people to execute them that’s the problem.”


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