Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is the Scottish Government's economic and community development agency for a diverse region which covers more than half of Scotland and is home to around 450,000 people.

HIE's role is to develop sustainable economic growth across the region. To achieve this it creates infrastructure for future investment, assists large and small businesses with growth aspirations and has a unique role strengthening communities, particularly in fragile areas. As part of this HIE supports communities to acquire and develop land and other assets.

HIE supports the growth ambitions of business and social enterprise clients working through an account management model in order to accelerate growth in turnover, profitability, wage levels, exports and therefore gross value added (GVA) in the HIE area.

HIE also invests in transformational projects across the region aiming to make the Highlands and Islands a more competitive and attractive place to live, work, study and grow.


In 1991 HIE replaced the Highlands and Islands Development Board, a public body in Scotland responsible for distributing government grants for economic and cultural development of the Highlands that was launched on 1 November 1965.[1] Retired diplomat Sir Andrew Gilchrist was its chairman from 1970 until 1976.

A major reshaping of the organisation in 1993 saw the number of divisions reduced from seven to five.[2]

Area covered by HIE


Highlands and Islands Enterprise's approach to economic and community development centres on working to build sustainable economic growth in all parts of the region. They are guided in this by the Scottish Government Economic Strategy, and by the Scottish Economic Recovery Plan.

HIE operates across 13 offices throughout the Highlands and Islands including 10 Area Offices, from Benbecula to Forres and Lerwick to Lochgilphead.

HIE's purpose is to deliver the Scottish Government's Economic Strategy which aims to create a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. The strategy sets five strategic objectives, for Scotland to become:

The HIE Operating Plan outlines the investment priorities for its annual budget in line with the national economic strategy.

The Scottish Government's skills strategy, Skills for Scotland, also informs HIE's remit.

The skills strategy highlights the importance to economic growth of equipping people with skills, expertise and knowledge, and ensuring their full and productive use.

While Skills Development Scotland is the leading body in this field, HIE continues to have a strong interest in aspects of skills in the region. In particular, they support workforce development, help create learning infrastructure and are helping UHI Millennium Institute become a university.

The equivalent organisation for lowland Scotland is Scottish Enterprise.


  1. "50 bliadhna bho stèidhicheadh an HIDB (50 years from setting up the HIDB)" (in Scottish Gaelic). BBC News. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  2. "HIE unveils new structure as Lecs take centre stage". The Herald. 26 October 1993. Retrieved 7 November 2015.

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