RUSSELL BORTHWICK

LAST week saw a momentous moment for the North-east with the passing of plans for the new Kingsford stadium, training and community facility by Aberdeen City Council.

Representing a £50million private sector investment in the region, we believe Kingsford is one of the major infrastructure projects that is key to the future of our economy.

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As a Chamber, we have been clear in our ask that local councillors listen to the business community, put economic success at the heart of their decisions and show ambition in making the vision for our region a reality. In backing the stadium plans, Aberdeen City Council has demonstrated all of these things.

While not without its critics, the new venue will create a major sporting centre of excellence, able to attract international rugby and football matches as well as other major sporting events and concerts.

Our hope is that the plans are progressed at pace and the benefits of this investment begin to be felt by the community because this is more than just a new home for a football club and its fans.

Sport contributes to building a community’s sense of place and even where some people don’t have a direct interest in the event or result, success brings together the citizens of the area, boosting collective morale.

Our strategy to bring world class events to the North-east saw two new dates on the calendar in 2017. The Tour Series and inaugural Great Aberdeen Run attracted thousands of visitors to the area, many for the first time. Both events will be returning to the city this summer but these are just the tip of the iceberg.

This spring sees the world’s best curlers of all age groups competing here in a series of events including the World Junior Championships, there strong rumours that in 2019 the Scottish Open will return to a North-east links course; and in 2020, Aberdeen Sports Village is the venue for the European Junior Swimming Championships.

Sports impact also goes beyond the day to day social environment of the workplace. If woven into the fabric of working life, it can play a huge part in creating bonds between colleagues and customers and bring financial benefits to those companies whose culture embraces sport. It’s also a well-established fact that a happy and healthy workforce is a more productive one.

Not embracing the business of sport as part of a successful regional economic strategy is a bit of an own goal.

Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.