Lessons from our economic development forum in Zagreb

  • economy

Our economic development forum met in Zagreb on 19-21 October for discussions on innovative forms of local economic activities supporting job creation; we share some lessons from the meeting.

Our economic development forum (EDF) met in Zagreb on 19-21 October 2015. A total of 66 participants from 28 different cities attended the meeting, which focused on: ‘Innovative forms of local economic activities supporting job creation’. Several working groups met alongside the forum: international economic relations together with city attractiveness; integrated urban development; cohesion policy; metropolitan areas; innovation; and entrepreneurship and SMEs.

During the debates and work sessions we learned that:

  • To support job creation, Zagreb provides entrepreneurs with training and education on business skills such as drawing up a business plan, marketing, sales and IT. Mirka Jozic, Zagreb city councillor in charge of the economy, also mentioned grants for social entrepreneurship development and for SME internationalisation.

  • The social entrepreneurship district approach in Birmingham helps the city bring together social entrepreneurs, facilitates their cooperation and raises awareness of the economic added value of the social economy. More here: http://digbethsocentquarter.co.uk/about-us/.

  • Investing in infrastructure, promoting entrepreneurship especially among disadvantaged groups, and public procurement are some of the levers our keynote speaker, Peter Ramsden, researcher and former URBACT expert, identified as being important for creating ‘future-proof city economies’. He referred to Nantes’ long tradition of using social clauses in public procurement contracts for infrastructure projects to create apprenticeships and jobs for disadvantaged groups, and creating a market for social enterprises.

  • Increasing job opportunities by improving the employability of everyone of working age continues to be a priority for many cities and for the EDF, according to Emanuele Piazza, EDF chair and deputy mayor of Genoa. He said that particular attention must be paid to tackle long term and youth unemployment, which threaten the future of our communities.

  • Replicable examples to revive struggling urban areas through innovation, including in sectors such as creative industries or manufacturing 2.0, can help facilitate the transformation towards smarter cities, Marijke van Hees, vice-chair of EDF, deputy Mayor of Enschede, argued.

Our next forum meeting will take place in Netwerkstad Twente (The Netherlands) on 11–13 April 2016 with a focus on the innovative power of cities and value creation.