Regions have their own unique strengths

Regions have their own unique strengths

On November 24, the ROMs hosted a webinar with Otto Raspe, Head of RaboResearch Netherlands Regions and Themes. During this webinar he discussed economic growth and broad prosperity in Dutch regions and formulated the challenges that different types of regions face and should work on. Below is the report of this webinar.

It sounds a bit like a contradiction in terms, but the studies really prove it: the more globally intertwined the economy is, the more important the role of regions becomes in it. Head of RaboResearch Otto Raspe explained crystal-clearly in the webinar how this is the case. The Northern Netherlands can benefit.

Today's world, and soon's, is no longer purely about economic growth. Widespread prosperity is gaining in importance. We all still think the economy is important. And we still measure the progress of our country primarily by GNP. And that is not such a crazy instrument, because time and again there is a direct connection between economic development and the people's feeling of happiness.

Researcher Otto Raspe looks deeper. He sees that there are clear differences between regions in the Netherlands; he sees that one region's share of GNP is growing, while other regions are in relative decline. Eindhoven Brainport, for example, is such a riser, while the southern part of the Randstad has more to worry about.


What is that due to? Certainly not one thing, but always a combination of factors. What is called the agglomeration effect is important in this. Where people and businesses cluster, advantages arise that can result in accelerated economic growth. More happens in a city, to put it flatly, than in a village. In that sense, connecting regions like Assen and Groningen is a good idea. Raspe: ,,Where geographic density increases, you see productivity increasing, but also average income. People become smarter, healthier and happier in a greener environment, with less crime.''

So should we just build up everything in the Northern Netherlands? Then again, no. The success of a region depends on, say, eight cogs that set the wheel of progress in motion. If there is sand in one of these cogs, the whole wheel slows down. So what is it all about? It is about clusters of business activity, the level of entrepreneurship, the presence of human capital, the knowledge infrastructure, the physical infrastructure, the supply of funding, governance and the living environment.

Put those cogs in a row, the Northern Netherlands has a lot of them. Raspe: ,,There is no one formula that can be pasted onto every region.'' Where in one place the physical infrastructure is top notch, elsewhere the living-living climate can excel. You see more and more that regions that do well on all these factors show the strongest growth. And also that regions, which clearly do less on one of those factors, lag behind in the overall picture.

Each region's own growth model

Have a group of people fill in what they really value, and you get a much broader picture than income alone. Education, living environment, safety, social interaction, sports, culture, health - these are factors we value. Work is only one of them. For the northern Netherlands, factors like living-living climate are important triggers. Raspe: ,,It is nonsensical to pursue the economic revenue model that made the Amsterdam region a success, for example. If you now look at the map of broad prosperity, that area is actually lagging behind. And that is reflected in the contribution of such a region to GNP. Every region deserves its own model.''

The regional engines of today and tomorrow are different. The Northern Netherlands must rely on its own strengths to create a robust future earnings model. Peace, space, educational offerings, safety, social cohesion. The government can lend a hand. By making funding available to strengthen innovative power and entrepreneurship, for example. That way you stay well within the cogs of the wheel that are already strong and strengthen those that need extra attention.

Link to video

The full webinar can be accessed at this link (duration 60 minutes).

Presentation Otto Raspe