RUSSELL BORTHWICK

HOW to attract more European tourists to the North-east, re-invent Union Street and retain our most talented people will be among the projects put to council leaders, business leaders and potential investors next month during a conference focused on shaping the future economic prosperity of the region.

Since September, around 100 volunteers of all ages, sectors and backgrounds have been working to develop business cases for eight key projects designed to create an amazing legacy for future generations of Aberdonians.

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The teams will present their recommendations as part of Route to Renaissance, a Vanguard conference on December 5. Each group will have 15 minutes to pitch their game-changing ideas in the hope of securing backing to take their ideas forward.

How to achieve transformational change is a question on the lips of business and community leaders across Scotland and beyond. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: if you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always got. In a highly competitive environment, no city region can stand still if it hopes to remain vibrant and economically strong.

The Vanguard Legacy initiative aims to have a direct positive impact on Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire across the next two to five years, building on the momentum created by the city region deal and a range of public and private sector investment projects valued in excess of £8billion which are either planned or already underway in the region.

For us, the questions include how do we make the people of our area fall back in love with their city centre? How do we make Aberdeen a ‘cool’ place for residents, students and visitors? How could a world class events programme in the region drive in-bound tourism as well as making this an even better place to live and what might that look like?

With judges from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport currently debating who will be named 2021 City of Culture it’s a good time to ask what it would take for Aberdeen to put forward a successful offering in the future?

Collective effort is required to challenge norms and inspire bold, new ways of thinking in order to write the next chapter in the success story of any region. There is real drive and enthusiasm among the eight Vanguard workgroups for how we can transform the North-east and I for one am eager to hear what they have come up with.

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