On the overarching Vibrant Economy Index, Highland is the strongest performing area, ranking six out of 32 nationally. The remaining areas in this region rank on or marginally below the nationally average. This overall performance, however, hides a number of strengths in particular aspects of vibrancy.
The most obvious of these is community, trust and belonging. This region is home to the three highest ranking places in the country: Orkney, Shetland and Argyll & Bute (see map 1). Highland and Eilean Siar are not far behind, ranking six and seven respectively. These rankings reflect the strong sense of place and community identity that exists in much of the region.
Map 1 - How Highland and Islands perform against the Vibrant Economy Index
For health, wellbeing and happiness, Orkney ranks one, while Argyll & Bute (four) and Highland (six) are also in the top 20% nationally. For inclusion and equality, Shetland ranks one and Moray four.
However, performance on the economic basket of measures is starkly different, with four of the six areas in the region in the bottom 20% nationally for prosperity and only one area around the national average. Three of the six areas are in the bottom 20% for dynamism and opportunity, with two around the national average. In part this imbalance between economic and social measures reflects the historic nature of the area. It also raises important questions for those responsible for place shaping around economic aspiration and opportunity.
For resilience and sustainability, the region covers the full spectrum and is home to both the highest ranked area nationally – Highland – as well as the lowest.