Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce is the 'voice of business' in the North-east of Scotland, ensuring the views of local businesses are heard and acted upon by key decision makers in local government, at Holyrood and Westminster.
We aim to influence and shape the economic and policy conditions that will enable businesses in the region to succeed, and work with a range of partners, including Opportunity North East, Aberdeen Inspired, VisitAberdeenshire and Our Union Street, to make that happen.
We are politically independent and work with a panel of representatives from member businesses to ensure that the policy work we do accurately reflects our diverse business community.
We currently have four key priorities - improving our regional connectivity, creating a prosperous business environment, supporting a fair and just transition in the energy sector, and regenerating Aberdeen City Centre. All are further explained below.
We want the North-east of Scotland to be the best place to do business.
By that we mean the most productive region of Scotland, the most enterprising part of the UK and among the most globally attractive prospects for inward investment.
We played a key role in helping the North-east secure one of two Investment Zones in Scotland, bringing tax breaks and other benefits worth £80million.
We have also been vocal in our opposition to what our members view as bad policy, including the proposed alcohol advertising ban and the poorly-executed deposit return scheme.
In recent years, we have successfully prevented a workplace parking levy which would have costs businesses here millions of pounds.
And we continue to push for meaningful and ambitious reform of non-domestic rates to stimulate enterprise. The way we do business has changed over time and so too must the way that businesses are taxed. A new system should reflect changing property needs and usage and incentivise new businesses to emerge and grow in our towns and cities.
Securing a managed energy transition
The switch to greener energy is an exciting opportunity for this region – in fact, where is better placed to take advantage of the potential economic benefits that it presents?
However, we are also at greatest risk if our policy makers get this wrong. A report published last year by the Robert Gordon University estimated that 17,000 energy sector jobs could be lost in the Aberdeen region by 2030 if we don’t get our steps in the right order.
The path to net zero as we make the next step in this transition requires four things – and they span business, government and the public at large.
First, we need to reduce demand, and that involves everyone. Right now, three-quarters of the UK’s energy consumption is derived from oil and gas.
Second, we need to develop new sources and ways of storing energy – such as hydrogen and offshore wind – to help us further diversify our energy mix.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, we need the public and government to understand and accept that this could easily take two, perhaps three decades, to deliver.
And fourth, it requires us to find the most efficient way to source domestically-required oil and gas in the meantime. And that is the North Sea.
We are working tirelessly to ensure that politicians of all political persuasions understand this.
Improving regional connectivity
Aberdeen is a global hub, serving an interdependent region. Our connectivity by air, road, rail, sea and online must reflect that, but currently falls well short in terms of delivering maximum economic potential for the region.
We have been pushing for progress on the infrastructure upgrades required to radically reduce rail journey times between Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, ensuring that Scotland’s three largest city regions can maximise economic output by working together.
Beyond this longstanding call for action, we want to see a serious business case developed for expanding rail infrastructure to the north of the city — to Ellon, Peterhead, St Fergus and Fraserburgh, with passenger and freight capacity, potentially linking to Acorn at St Fergus.
We are supporting the Campaign for North East Rail to deliver this, with initial funding from the Just Transition Fund to undertake a feasibility study.
We also want to see a level playing field on air passenger duty and investment in route development, to connect Aberdeen Airport to the rest of the country and the world as we capitalise on energy transition and new tourism opportunities.
Regenerating Aberdeen City Centre
Union Street is not what it used to be - it’s not what it should be, and it’s not what it can be.
People care about the state of Union Street; they care that many retail units sit empty and uninviting, they care about graffiti, litter, dirty buildings, weeds growing on balconies and the general upkeep of the street.
They want Union Street to be a safe, busy, energetic, thriving thoroughfare that compares favourably with the best of UK’s small cities. And they want somebody to take responsibility for addressing these challenges and improving the street; a consistent, concerted effort with plans, actions and progress.
The Chamber is one of the five founding partners of Our Union Street, a new community-led organisation which will spearhead efforts the breathe new life into the street. You can read more at ourunionstreet.com
Contact our policy team
Born and brought up in Aberdeen, dedicated/long suffering (delete as applicable) Dons fan Russell came home to head up the Chamber of Commerce in 2016 after a period of more than 20 years living and working in the ‘other’ North East…. of England. During this time, he worked on a number of key development and regeneration projects that supported the reinvention of that region’s economy.
Immediately before returning, Russell was managing partner of a global marketing agency network based in Newcastle. Prior to this he had a spell as regional managing director for Reach plc’s North East of England newspaper and digital division after founding and growing media, research & communications agency, Press Ahead, over a ten year period.
Russell represents AGCC and its members on various Boards and development forums including Opportunity North East, VisitAberdeenshire and the Regional Economic Strategy group to help realise the aims of the Chamber and his personal passion for making the North East Scotland an even better place to live, work, study, visit, invest and do business.
Creating a place we can be proud of for future generations.
Ryan joined AGCC in 2021 after seven years supporting the UK expansion of a leading Scottish law firm.
He is responsible for promoting the Chamber’s full suite of activities and developing new ways to communicate these to its 1,000+ members and the wider regional business community. He also leads on the vital policy, lobbying and campaign work the Chamber does on behalf of members.
Ryan is a co-founder and director of Sovereign Grooming, the luxury barbering brand with city centre salons in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Prior to his move into business, he enjoyed a successful, decade-long media career, holding the positions of chief reporter and latterly business editor at The Press & Journal. He was named Young Journalist of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards in 2009 and Business Journalist of the Year in 2014.
He has also been a director and board member at Aberdeen Inspired since 2018 and was elected as the organisation’s vice-chairman in the summer of 2021.
Fergus works with the Chamber as a Policy Adviser to ensure the region’s business voices are heard at the highest levels of government.
In recent years, the Chamber has spoken up loudly on behalf of business, pointing out the damaging impact on many companies of public health policies.
As we emerge from the pandemic period, it’s vital that we return to a position where we can help to design good policy rather than calling out bad. Fergus will provide a crucial bridge for that work
Between 2015 and 2020, Fergus was the SNP’s Head of Communications and Research during an intense political period covering five elections and the Brexit referendum.
He was brought up in Old Aberdeen and went on to study law at the University of Glasgow and University College London.
Heather graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 2009 with an MA(Hons) in Economics.
She then spent five years working in the third sector organising a range of fundraising events including biathlons, white water rafting, abseils and driving challenges. Following that, Heather moved into politics and for the last seven years has worked for a high-profile local MSP, running the office for the last five, dealing with policy and handling the casework.