Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is the only agency of its kind in Europe, uniquely integrating both community and economic development across a largely rural region with a population of just under half a million. Our region, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, covers over half of Scotland, from the Shetland Isles in the north to Argyll (west of Glasgow) in the south and includes all of Scotland’s inhabited islands. The agency has an annual budget of more than £95m.
As Director of Strengthening Communities, Rachael McCormack leads HIE’s work to build community resilience and sustainability across the region. Our focus is threefold – to invest in community capacity building, enable community asset ownership and empower social enterprise to grow. The Highlands and Islands region has a strong and diverse social economy, and an ambitious community enterprise sector.
Since joining HIE in 2012, Rachael has led a number of important strategic initiatives, including the development of regional policy such as Resilient Rural Communities and Ambitious for Culture. She led HIE’s contribution to shape Scotland’s Community Empowerment Bill and pioneering research into the economic and social value of Gaelic – Scotland’s native language – as an asset. Rachael also currently oversees HIE’s leadership of two major, community-led, national programmes – the Scottish Land Fund and Community Broadband Scotland – and leads HIE’s £10m Creative Futures Partnership with the Glasgow School of Art. Rachael leads HIE’s portfolio of over 150 social and community enterprises based within the region – these are organisations looking to grow and develop with support from HIE. She is also responsible for a wide range of support products and services, from specialist land transaction support, leadership and business development and product innovation.
Having studied at De Montfort University, Leicester, in Management Sciences, Rachael held several posts in local government. She then moved successfully into the private sector, running a business consultancy for nine years.