We recently welcomed delegates from across Scotland as Aberdeen City Council played host to the first joint conference hosted by the Economic Development Association of Scotland and Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development.
The country’s leading experts attended to share knowledge and experiences, with the shared goal of driving economic development throughout the country.
By way of introduction to the host city, I had the opportunity to talk about our own experiences here in Aberdeen and the reaction in the room was hugely encouraging – underlining the fact there is much to be proud of.
We all know the challenges we have faced in our economy, but when you take time to consider what is being done to shape our city’s future it should give us all great optimism.
For the purposes of the conference I chose to concentrate on November, and what we achieved in that four week period on our journey towards transforming the city and improving the outcomes for the businesses and individuals and we serve.
As the month began, we became the first local authority in Scotland to turn to the capital markets. Securing a credit rating, and subsequently a successful £370m bond issue through the London Stock Exchange, is an example of the innovation we are leading within local government and also demonstrated the investor faith in the solid fiscal foundations of the Council and the long term economic future of the city.
On a lighter but significant note, as part of our commitment to building our role as a tourism destination, we had great excitement as the Great Aberdeen Run was launched in November. The inaugural event in 2017 will draw thousands to streets of the city and it is just part of our vision for a growing events programme designed to bring visitors from across the world.
The physical transformation of our city spaces also continues at pace, and mid-way through the month we held the topping out ceremony at Marischal Square – the £107m development of what is a key city centre site.
It is the most visible part of the ambitious City Centre Masterplan, incorporating 50 projects which will change the face of Aberdeen whilst preserving the rich heritage we have, but not the only one to be progressing.
November also brought a major boost to the £30million redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery, with the award of £1.6m of funding from the UK Government’s Libor Trust, not to mention the activation event for the public engagement around plans for the £20m revitalisation of Union Terrace Gardens.
At the end of the month, we signed the £250m Aberdeen City Region Deal, which we estimate will be worth a total of £826m when wider and private investment and our own contribution is factored in. This funding is already being put to use to foster innovation and diversification, two of the bedrocks of our plans for a bright and prosperous future.
Those are just the brief highlights of a single month in the life of Aberdeen City Council – but that snapshot provides an indication of the great strides being taken on a daily basis. It is vital that we do not ease off and continue to push ourselves forward.