In recent years Aberdeen City Council’s role in driving the economic development of the region has been put in sharp focus and a great deal of work has been done to fulfil that vital function.
There is a service dedicated to economic development, with a vast and varied remit ranging from high profile projects – such as the City Region Deal, which we anticipate will be worth up to £826million to the economy in the area over the next decade – through to daily work which may not grab the headlines in the same way but is important to the bigger picture.
A great example of that is in relation to the £350m harbour expansion being carried out by the Aberdeen Harbour Board, with support through the City Region Deal.
The Council hosted a series of ‘Meet the Buyer’ events on behalf of Dragodas, the main contractor for the harbour project.
These sessions have successfully been conducted for other developments in the past and are designed to connect local businesses with those managing major projects and seeking support from contractors with the expertise and workforce required.
Following three events with Dragados, 15 local firms have been successful in securing contracts in a wide range of disciplines – whether in supplying materials for the construction, off-site support in areas such as health and safety or in other functions supporting what is a hugely significant development for Aberdeen.
The harbour expansion itself will bring long-term economic benefits, supporting our regional aims of anchoring the oil and gas industry to Aberdeen and of encouraging the growth of the tourism sector, but in the short-term there will also be great advantages as businesses of all types and size play their part.
Aberdeen rightly has a reputation for its oil and gas expertise, but we should also be proud of the supply chain which has grown up around the energy industry and is truly world class in terms of both innovation and service delivery.
Promoting the breadth of that supply chain is important as we move forward, with the Meet the Buyer events just one of a number of initiatives designed to support companies in expanding their horizons.
As I stated only last week in relation to the potential impact of Brexit on Aberdeen, and I have again this week in response to claims around the city’s appeal to investors, it is vital we promote the great strides being made locally in stimulating the economy.
We all know the challenges we have faced in our economy and outside factors will continue to have an impact – but when you take time to consider what is being done to shape our city’s future it should give us all great optimism.