The North East economy is to get a multi-million pound boost after today being named as one of Scotland’s first Investment Zones.
The news is a significant shot in the arm for the area, following disappointment at the start of the year when it lost its bid for green freeport status.
The UK Government had revealed in its spring Budget that 12 Investment Zones were to be set up across the country - and the two areas in Scotland now selected are the North East and Glasgow city region.
Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce chief executive Russell Borthwick described today’s announcement as a “significant vote of confidence” in the future of the region, signalling that the North East is very much open for business with an exciting future ahead.
The North East and Glasgow city region will each be supported by up to £80million in targeted investment, tax reliefs and other incentives over five years.
Thus follows a joint selection process by the Scottish and UK governments.
Building on Scottish strengths
Neil Gray, the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Economy Secretary, said: “Scotland already has a strong track record in innovation and research and the Investment Zones can build on these strengths.
“They will form part of a joined-up approach that draws on the expertise of our world-leading research, education and training institutions, dynamic business sector and skilled workforce and will enable local communities to benefit.
“A rigorous process has been followed in selecting Glasgow city region and the North-east.
"We look forward to working in partnership with them to create high-quality jobs and ensure that fair work practices, including payment of the real living wage, are embedded in the Investment Zones from the outset.”
Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland, said today’s announcement was exciting news for Glasgow and Aberdeen.
He added: “The establishment of two Investment Zones in these areas will enhance their existing strengths, helping to attract investment, grow our economy and create jobs in priority sectors.
Great progress with freeports
“This will build upon the great progress already being seen with the freeports we announced earlier this year in Inverness and Cromarty Firth and the Firth of Forth.
“We have worked closely with the Scottish Government throughout, which shows again what can be achieved when Scotland’s two governments work together to promote a fair spread of opportunities across Scotland.”
The chamber’s Mr Borthwick said the North East has led the world in key sectors of strength such as energy and food and drink over many years.
He continued: “Today’s announcement allows us to drive inward investment, encourage new innovation and inject pace as we diversify and grow our regional economy further still.
“The Investment Zone model requires all-hands-to-the-pump collaboration in delivery - with public and private sector leadership, our pioneering universities, the highly-skilled workforce that exists in our region and individual businesses all at the heart of ensuring we succeed.
Building on success
“Aberdeen and the wider North East is well placed to build on the success of our highly-successful City Region Deal, which is viewed as an exemplar of its type in the UK due to pace of delivery and the scale of private, public and not-for-profit funding which has been leveraged in to anchor projects.
“From £250million, it has created £1billion of investment to date, with several projects already realised and making a real different to our economy.
“Our continued success as a region cannot be taken for granted, but today’s announcement supplies us with a powerful tool to sustain economic growth, turbocharge energy transition and diversify our economy at pace.”
Leading Aberdeen businessman Sir Ian Wood stated that the city now has to capitalise on becoming an Investment Zone.
“The awarding of an Investment Zone to the North East is a significant boost to our region and we are grateful to both the Scottish and UK governments for recognising the need to support us as we continue to transform our regional economy,” he said.
“Our reputation as an innovative and productive region is both hard won and well deserved, and today’s announcement will help secure our position as one of the most attractive locations anywhere in the UK, and indeed Europe, for investment in low-carbon technologies across different sectors.”