Vanguardees share their progress on transformation projects

One year on from the inaugural Vanguard Conference, volunteers who have been working on a series of transformational projects for the Aberdeen City Region have provided an overview of the plans that have been put in motion to date.

Abzolutely Aberdeen – A Vanguard Conference, which took place at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen on Tuesday, November 6, heard updates from the groups working across three main themes: tourism, city centre and regional narrative. This included proposals to close Union Street to traffic, a range of activities highlighting the region’s food and drink sector; and the work being undertaken to tell the region’s story in a way that attracts students, visitors and investors as well as boosting civic pride among locals.

There was also an update on the cluster culture initiative which has been taken forward following funding from Skills Development Scotland and Opportunity North East, with a new, full time role created to promote the North-east as a hub for the life sciences sector.

The conference also heard from Mike Galloway, former executive director of city development at Dundee City Council, who spoke about the role of culture at the heart of urban renaissance. Mike shared his experience of working on the regeneration initiative around Dundee Waterfront, with the V&A Museum at its heart.

He was joined by Bob Keiller, chairman of Scottish Enterprise and founder of AB15 consultancy, who discussed the impact that transformational projects can have on the confidence and economic performance of places; and Aberdeen Football Club manager Derek McInnes, who talked about the lessons that can be learned from the club’s experience of getting the city to fall back in love with it.

Organised by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce together with Shell UK and Clydesdale Bank, the conference was latest in a series of events aimed at challenging norms and inspiring bold, new ways of thinking in order to write the next chapter in the success story of the region.

Chamber chief executive Russell Borthwick said: “The Vanguard initiative traces back to a piece of research in 2017 which revealed that three quarters of young professionals in the area felt disenfranchised and uninvolved in the future of the region. We created a platform to get them involved in real economic challenges, tasking them with coming up with fresh ideas across a wide range of topics.

“The conference was about sharing the positive progress they have made and reinforcing the message that the North-east is a region filled with vibrancy and passion and with a bright future ahead of it. The event was a huge success with fascinating external insights provided by our keynote speakers and some truly energising momentum from the groups.”

The Vanguard initiative aims to have a direct positive impact on Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, 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. Around 60 volunteers of all ages, sectors and backgrounds have been involved following a public appeal in June 2017.

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