Aberdeen can rise to the challenge of finding news ways to boost the economy, politicians and industry leaders said today.
The confident comments come despite a report yesterday that predicts Brexit will hit Aberdeen’s economy the hardest of any UK city.
Written by the Centre for Cities and the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School Economics, the report predicts Aberdeen’s economic output will shrink by up to 3.7%.
Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said: “The challenge for Aberdeen will be to diversify its industrial structure in the years ahead, so that it is less reliant on one sector (oil and gas).
“This will be crucial for the city to thrive after we leave the EU.”
Aberdeen City Council leader, Cllr Jenny Laing, admitted there were “huge challenges” ahead, but said positive strides are being taken.
She said: “In the past year, we have signed the £250 million Aberdeen City Region Deal, which we estimate will be worth a total of £826m when wider private investment and our own contribution are factored in.
“This funding is already being put to use to foster innovation and diversification.”
Cllr Laing said investors had shown confidence by buying some of the £370m in city council bonds.
“With the bond issue and the completion of the City Region Deal, in a single month alone last year more than £600 million of funding for vital projects was secured.
“When you take time to consider what is being done to shape our city’s future it should give us all great optimism.”
The mood was similarly upbeat at Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in the city and region.
Its chief executive, Russell Borthwick, said: “Clearly there are challenges associated with whatever type of Brexit outcome we see but we are hopeful that the technology, skills and innovation for which this area is renowned will stand us in good stead to see this as an opportunity rather than a threat.”
Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman, of the SNP, criticised her Aberdeen South counterpart, Tory Ross Thomson, for supporting the Vote Leave campaign in the run up to the Brexit vote.
Ms Blackman said: “To discover we may be the worst affected city for something we didn’t even want in the first place is devastating.
“Mr Thomson must now explain to his constituents why he put so much effort into campaigning for a cause which looks set to directly hurt this city and its economic output.”
Jennifer Craw, chief executive of private sector economic development body Opportunity North East, said: “Economic diversification is already at the top of the region’s agenda.
“We have a shared vision for the economy which involves having a broad and resilient business base.
“This involves making the most of the oil and gas opportunity ahead and growing our other significant industry sectors, including food, drink and agriculture, life sciences and tourism while developing the digital economy.”
Mr Thomson was unavailable for comment.