A Tay Cities deal would have an impact on Dundee 10 times greater than the waterfront redevelopment, it has been claimed.
Mike Galloway, Dundee City Council’s city development director, said the potential of a Cities Deal is a “bigger opportunity” than the arrival of the V&A at Dundee and the wider waterfront redevelopment.
The Tay Cities plan will see Dundee, Perth and Kinross, Angus and Fife councils working together.
If the bid is successful, then the three Tayside councils and north east Fife could share £400 million to improve infrastructure, which could also be supplemented with funding from the Scottish Government.
Speaking at the fifth annual Dundee Economic Summit, Mr Galloway said there has been a “fantastic” response to the draft Tay Cities plan from both the UK and Scottish Governments.
He added: “Everyone thinks the waterfront has been a turning point for Dundee but there has always been something happening in Dundee.
“I think the Tay Cities Deal is a much, much bigger opportunity than even the waterfront.”
He added: “The waterfront has been £85 million worth of public investment with regards to the infrastructure – we are talking about 10 times that for the city deal over 25 years.”
Mr Galloway said Perth and Dundee can work together and complement each other in the same way US cities like St Paul’s and Minnesota and Oakland and San Francisco do.
“The fact is the petty issues of the past have been swept away and there is genuine willingness to come together and achieve this,” he said.
“It opens up a huge opportunity. What led the waterfront to happen was although the administrations at Dundee City Council changed, the commitment to the waterfront has always been there.
“Dundee has a population of around 150,000 but if you add in the populations of Perth and Angus it is much bigger and the opportunities are tenfold.”
During a question and answer session, Mr Galloway was also quizzed about the future of the Dundee City Centre.
He said like all other town centres across the UK it had struggled because of the twin threats of the recession and the rise in internet shopping but that it could still have a bright future.
Mr Galloway said: “We need to find a way to repurpose a lot of business premises in the city centre.
“We are going to see a big upsurge in the number of customers in the centre and we need to be prepared for that by creating something distinctive to attract these customers and to get them to become repeat visitors.
“We are determined to ensure the whole city benefits from what is happening at the waterfront.”
Mr Galloway said an increasing number of businesses are considering opening in Dundee because the waterfront redevelopment, even if they do not want to be based there themselves.
He said: “These are businesses that are attracted by the waterfront but don’t want to be there, they want to be three or four blocks back.”
As well as the V&A, Mr Galloway also told the packed audience in the Apex Hotel it is imporant to develop other sites so they are ready for potential investment.
“It’s important to have the infrastructure – we are creating opportunities for jobs.”