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Geelong Advertiser Opinion Piece - Dundee, Scotland

The Committee for Geelong recently hosted Mike Galloway, Director of City Development, Dundee City Council, Scotland. Mike has led Dundee's vision and regeneration for over twenty years, and the lessons he has learned during this time are important for the Geelong community to consider about business and industry in our city.

Mike's visit to Geelong was a result of the Committee's international study tour of second cities. Cities with a similar economic history and scale to Geelong were selected for the study tour, with the aim of informing Government policy development on second cities. The study tour resulted in the Committee's research report "Winning from Second: What Geelong Can Learn from International Second Cities", a framework that will greatly contribute to the future direction of Geelong as a Clever and Creative city-region. TheWinning from Secondreport was prepared by the United Nations Global Compact - Cities Programme and RMIT's Centre for Urban Research, with support from the Commonwealth Bank and other partners.  It is the first independent and evidenced-based research produced since the major announcements of Ford manufacturing and Alcoa.

The Committee for Geelong has a long association with Dundee, and the City was included in our 2016 study tour. North of Edinburgh, Dundee is on the eastern coast and has a population of 148,000.  Once a thriving industrial city built on textile mills and shipbuilding, an economic downturn in 1950s and 1990s resulted significant change.  Through strong vision and commitment from city leaders, Dundee is now an internationally recognised education, research and design centre which has become a UNESCO "City of Design".

During his visit to Geelong, Mike offered important insights into how a co-ordinated approach to economic development and planning drives jobs growth, and contributes to the transformation of cities.  While Dundee's success cannot be tied to one single person or organisation, the long term shared strategic vision for Dundee has been crucial for its ongoing success.  Importantly, the vision has been embraced by all sectors and not challenged through changing political cycles.

As a result, Dundee's waterfront development has progressed and this has attracted the internationally renowned Victoria and Albert Museum to locate its first facility outside of London, in Dundee. 

There are many similarities between Dundee and Geelong, beyond the waterfront redevelopment and revitalisation of city spaces.  Just like Dundee, Geelong is in the process of identifying its strongest industry sectors. 

Similar to Geelong, Dundee is a port city and identified the extensive potential in agriculture, and focussed on developing that sector. This was compatible with Scotland's major sectors of tourism, food and alcohol.  As a result, Dundee now has the largest agricultural port on the east coast.  

Education also heavily influenced Dundee's transformation, through the city's two universities, Dundee University and Abertay University. Life sciences and creative industries, with a focus on technology and engineering, are the key industry sectors that have helped Dundee achieve its UNESCO status as "City of Design."

Most importantly, Mike's visit to Geelong re-enforced the significance of investment by the business community in cities like ours.  Increased investment in Geelong could be leveraged to lure additional jobs and opportunities, which can be of further benefit to our community.  Similarly, Geelong can learn from the strong partnership models that Dundee has created to further drive its transformation.  Better collaboration with Geelong's business community could help to secure additional State, Federal and private sector investment to make Victoria's Second City even greater.  Dundee's experience highlights that the role of the business community, and its importance to the transformation of cities like Geelong, should never be underestimated.  Greater recognition of the importance of the private sector, together with improved collaboration with business and industry, is vital to give Geelong the stability that it needs to plan for the future and grow. 



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