Q. What is the Regional Economic Strategy and why is it important?
Russell: "The RES is a plan to ensure the future prosperity of our region. It sets out how we plan to diversify our economy to create inclusive growth, high quality jobs and a great place to live, work, study, visit, invest and do business for future generations. Our renaissance region."
Q. What is the Chamber’s role in it?
Russell: "We sit on the steering group, are a co-author of the plan and partner in delivering key project including the regional narrative, Developing the Young Workforce, circular economy and setting up a partnership to grow exports from the region.
"Our promise to members is that the Chamber provides a range of support to help companies do business better today while creating the economic conditions for future success. Being centrally involved in the RES along with our board positions at Opportunity North East, Visit Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen Inspired enables us to make good on the 2nd part of this promise.
Q. What stage are things at now?
Russell: The original strategy was written in 2015 with the action plan updated in 2018 and there's been great progress with investment in our key growth sectors, billions invested in regeneration projects, new infrastructure and bringing world class culture and events here.
"Much of this is captured on the narrative resources hub at abzolutely.com and in the investment tracker which can be found on the Chamber website.
"Our regional partnership is strong, unique and viewed with envy by other places. Our city region deal is widely regarded as being the most advanced and best delivered in the UK.
"We are currently refreshing the priority actions to ensure our focus reflects the dynamic world we are living in and where we can make the biggest impact over the next five years and details will be published soon."
Q. What are the priorities for 2020?
Russell: "We need to articulate to all of our key audiences and stakeholders that this region is not the climate change problem but part of the solution to achieving net zero - Europe’s oil & gas capital leading on global energy transition.
"We are pushing for greater devolution of meaningful fiscal powers to this region; and ensuring that future transport infrastructure investment is clearly aligned with our plans to deliver maximum economic impact. We also want to see projects delivered at pace.
"If we are to succeed, we also need to retain and attract the very best talent here. Providing our young people with the motivation and skills to deliver the jobs of the future in our diversified economy.
"And finally, continuing to tell the story of the great quality of work life balance for people building careers and businesses in this region."