GROWTH, people, civic engagement and infrastructure funding are the essential ingredients in creating successful regions, according to Sir Howard Bernstein, the former chief executive of Manchester city council who visited Aberdeen at the start of this month.

Instrumental in masterminding his city's rebirth following the 1996 IRA bomb, brokering Manchester City FC's investment in east Manchester, championing the Metrolink and bringing the 2002 Commonwealth Games to the city, this is a man who knows what he’s talking about when it comes to driving transformational change.

The Chamber invited Sir Howard to share the benefit of his experience with North-east business leaders as we push ahead with our ambitions to diversify our economic base and create the legacy we want for future generations.

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In addition to reinforcing the importance of developing policies for growth and diversification that support stronger international trade; and increasing the focus on people so they get the access to public service support they need in order to play the fullest part in the economic success of their areas – the key to driving productivity – he spoke about the need to address new ways of accessing and generating resources in order to support infrastructure investment.

This is particularly relevant for the Aberdeen city region as we have just released a second investment tracker capturing the scale of projects currently planned in the region.

In excess of £8.9bn of private and public sector investment is due to be delivered in the next 12 years with most of the projects scheduled for the next three years including transport, leisure and retail, culture, hotels and business space, as well as marine and renewables.

Any ambitious region, anywhere in the world needs people and organisations to bring investment, innovation, skills and jobs but if they are under the impression that somewhere is in decline or closed for business they will simply go elsewhere.

The foundations are in place to develop the renaissance vision we share with our partners for Aberdeen but according to Sir Howard, this will only be realised if:

We stick with the long-term plan. We are prepared to learn from elsewhere. We work in a totally collaborative and joined up way. We talk up our assets and ambition. And we have people prepared to demonstrate real leadership and make big calls.

Russell Borthwick is the chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce