HOW effectively the economic engine-room of the North East connects to the rest of Scotland will be critical to the future economic success of the country - no matter what the outcome of the referendum in September, and this year's North East Business Week (NEBW) takes that connectivity as its theme.
Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise North East Trust, the Federation of Small Businesses and the SCDI are the core partners for this fourth annual event, and together with this year's associate partners - Nestrans, Transport Scotland and the North East Scotland Trade Group - have developed a compelling series of events and activities to focus sharply on this issue.
Research conducted specially for NEBW and published in the course of this year's event reveals how we can bring the rest of Scotland closer to the North East, to help spread supply chain benefits from the oil and gas sector through the entire economy.
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The partners involved in the week will also investigate the importance of local connectivity including roads infrastructure and, vitally, maximising the benefits associated with digital connectivity.
Collaboration is at the heart of successful economies, and North East Business Week is a great example of the strength of the collaboration between the four main business organisations in the region.
The series of events is aimed squarely at the business community, with nearly 1,000 people attending each year.
It was launched under the theme Driving Growth, and last year, debate focused minds on workforce issues, through the theme People Driving Growth.
Previous events and research identified that maximising the economic output of the region would require a variety of interventions such as improved housing supply, increased access to childcare and a need to work closely with regions around Scotland, the UK and international partners - the theme for this year, which is Connectivity Driving Growth.
Some of the key insights from the research conducted this year will be published during NEBW and include findings on the need for faster journey times to the Central Belt (including aspirations for how quick they should be; improved local road infrastructure; high-speed broadband and mobile connectivity; direct air connections to UK and international markets.
Businesses in the North East want to connect more effectively to their supply chains and partners in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the rest of the Central Belt and are hopeful that the planned investments in road, rail air and sea will release more potential for the region, Scotland and the rest of the UK.
James Bream is research and policy director at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce