Argyll man, Douglas Cowan, has been appointed director of strengthening communities for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Mr Cowan, who lives in Dunoon, joined HIE in 1996 and has held a variety of roles involving property, infrastructure and strategy. Since 2008 he has been area manager for the development agency in Argyll and the Islands, working from its office in Lochgilphead.
As director, he will continue to be based in Lochgilphead and will bring a renewed focus to addressing the challenges of the more remote and rural parts of the region. He will oversee area teams in Argyll and the Islands, the Outer Hebrides, and Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, where most of the region’s fragile areas are.
Douglas will also lead HIE’s work in supporting communities to acquire and develop community assets, supporting growth of the social economy and the social enterprise model which is critical to the economic and social development of the region. And he will direct the organisation’s contribution to developing culture and heritage.
Announcing the appointment, Alex Paterson HIE chief executive, said: “I very much welcome Douglas to HIE’s leadership team. Community development goes hand in hand with sustainable economic growth and has been at the heart of HIE’s remit, and the HIDB before that, since 1965. Douglas’s experience in working with HIE across a range of activities will prove valuable in directing the organisation and helping the region to tackle the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Douglas Cowan added: “I relish the prospect of this new role. The Highlands and Islands region is showing great progress economically and socially. A priority for me is to make sure that the benefits of this progress extend to all parts of the highlands and islands.
“There are increasing numbers of ambitious communities across the region taking the initiative to shape their own future, including leading the way in community ownership of land and assets. We also have a higher rate of social enterprise activity than the rest of Scotland. It’s our role to foster these key regional strengths; support community ambitions for ownership and empowerment, and the continued growth in social enterprise, and in doing so generate sustainable economic growth across the region.”
Douglas Cowan succeeds Rachael McCormack, HIE’s previous director of strengthening communities who left in December.