Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy Conference - The SHIRE Conference

Proud to be Rural

The inaugural Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy conference - the SHIRE Conference - has been created to celebrate our modern rural economy. The event will take place in the afternoon before the first annual Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy Awards – The SHIREs.

Both events will be held on Thursday, 21 November in the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness.

What is the SHIRE Conference all about?

The SHIRE Conference is an event for everyone who is 'Proud to be Rural' and proud to be part of modern rural Scotland - a vibrant place with the potential to drive the country's economy forward.

The Conference will be of interest to anyone with a stake in our rural economy, and the initiatives which are helping to drive it forward as a recognisable, distinct and hugely important part of the overall Scottish economy.

In the past, 'Rural' was shorthand for agriculture, fishing and forestry which was the traditional definition of a 'rural enterprise'. However, the truth is that it's all of these and much, much more.

Traditional rural, while still hugely important, is only part of the modern rural economy and the need for that entire economy to be recognised has never been clearer as it represents almost of one third of Scotland's entire economy – the same as Glasgow and Edinburgh combined.

People, places, businesses and communities

With vast pools of talent, natural resources, history and a uniqueness which adds value to all that it produces, the Highlands and Islands rural economy is special, and we need to let everyone know.

The 20% of the population living in rural areas, many of whom work for small, local businesses deserve greater recognition – and that's what the SHIRE conference is all about

The conference will bring together those involved in all areas of the rural economy with leading figures representing the industries and organisations which are playing a key role in driving the Highlands, Islands & Moray forward

From the impact of initiatives such as the North Coast 500 to the view from rural businesses making their mark across the Highlands and Islands, you'll get invaluable insight on the direction of travel across sectors, including practical knowledge on growth areas and how to access support and take up the opportunities to start or grow your own business or enterprise.

The SHIRE conference is about:

the modern businesses, from manufacturing to tourism, which are also driving the economy
the 'Blue Economy', from fishing and shipping to energy and much more
the agriculture, land & estates and forestry which have been the bedrock of rural Scotland
the people who make modern rural Scotland thrive

The Conference will run from 11.45am to 4pm. The full programme will be announced in due course. 

The SHIRE Awards

The SHIRE conference will be followed in the evening by the first ever Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy Awards, 'The SHIREs'.

For more information about the Awards, including how to enter and how to book your place, visit

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