EDAS / SLAED Conference 2016: Leading Economic Development Transformation – From National to Local

This article tells the “story” of EDAS and SLAED’s first joint conference. Read on to get a flavour of the social media interaction of the day, presentations for download, and the provisional “asks” developed for consideration by the Scottish Government and the economic development community.


  1. On Thursday 1 December 2016, the Economic Development Association Scotland (EDAS) and the Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development Group (SLAED) held their first joint conference. EDAS is Scotland’s foremost member-driven economic development association, with over 2,500 members from the public, private, third and academic sectors. SLAED is a professional organisation that focuses on excellence in the delivery of local economic development services by local authorities across Scotland.
  2. The conference took place in Aberdeen, and was hosted by Aberdeen City Council in the historic Town House. Supporters of the conference were Brightstar Scotland, Business Improvement Districts Scotland, Cultural Enterprise Office, Ekosgen, Scotland’s Towns Partnership and Social Enterprise Scotland.
  3. Involving a strong line-up of expert speakers (see programme), as well as interactive workshops on key topics, a central aim of the conference was to bring all stakeholders within economic development together to discuss how national strategic aims can be delivered locally to maximum impact. This conversation took place against a backdrop of economic and political change, including Brexit, enhanced Holyrood devolution, the Enterprise Review, budgetary challenges, and City Region Deals.
  4. At the conference, key “asks” were developed for the consideration of the Scottish Government and economic development community. The provisional asks are given below – please see the end of this article.
  5. Build-up
  6. There was great interest in the conference from the wider economic development community ahead of the gathering in Aberdeen:
  7. Ahead of the conference, both organising partners published major documents for the attention of economic development practitioners. EDAS released the final report from its Route Map of Common Ambition (view here), with key messages on innovation, internationalisation, skills, and collaboration. Meanwhile SLAED published the report of its 2015-2016 Indicators Framework (view here), which gives a picture of the contribution that local authorities are making to local and national economic outcomes.