Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Grow through Activating Local Potential

10. Roros

Photo: Thomas Rasmus Yuel Skaug / Dagbladet

Main challenges: Lack of demographic growth, aging population, lack of growth in local businesses and jobs
Main objectives: Increased, sustainable value creation, greater attractiveness for tourists and citizens
Local resources: Local industry, heritage, human resources
Main explanations for the success: Teamwork, UNESCO World Heritage List, strategic development of Roros as a brand associated with quality

10.1 Local context and challenges

Figure 16 Coat of arms and location

Roros is a municipality in central Norway (Trøndelag County). The landscape is hilly with large mountain plateaus, the area is traditionally inhabited by local Sami. The population is approximately 5600 people, of which 3850 live in the village of the same name Roros. Roros is one of the coldest regions in Norway. Livelihoods have traditionally been dominated by animal husbandry, but honey production has been an important sector since the 17th century. The settlement was established as a result of the mining industry. Today, the mining industry is closed, but local industry is still an important livelihood in Roros. Food production and design companies are a vital part of this.

There are two national parks in Roros, and the village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its history in the field of mining. Today, about 1 million people visit Roros every year. The village is second in the annual national index of the best municipalities in Norway in terms of culture.

Figure 17 shows the demographic and job development in Roros after 2000.

Figure 17: Demographic and job development in Roros, 2000-2019

Number of jobs; Population

One of Roros' challenges was the lack of growth in local business, industry and tourism. Today, this negative trend is reversed - in part through systematic strategic work to create a special reputation by branding Roros as a place of quality and authenticity. This work is carried out in the form of cooperation between the municipality, the residents, the destination management company, the business garden, the local industry, the local and national management of the World Heritage sites and others.

10.2 Activation of local potential - who and what

Roros has long been an attractive tourist destination, but the modern market is increasingly demanding, and today's tourists are picky. Norway is an expensive destination and Norwegian destinations cannot compete on price. It is therefore necessary to develop the destination on the basis of other values. Roros works strategically on branding the area through quality, local uniqueness, authenticity and sustainability. The mayor explained this strategy as "cultivating the spirit of the area". This spirit is found, for example, in old buildings, local food traditions and the pride of citizens in culture. The emphasis on quality is developed within the local food industry, restaurants, accommodations, local hosts, experiences, shopping and more. Today, after 6-7 years of work, the strategy is applied as a way of thinking that has penetrated both tourism and local industry and is an advantage in competition with other destinations. The important principle today is for development to take place in a way that reinforces this brand. Both the current and the former mayor emphasize that teamwork and cooperation are crucial to success.

10.2.1 The role of the municipality

The municipality is an important factor in this development process mainly through its role of coordinator and organizer of events. The municipality hosts many meetings, seminars and workshops, as well as an important organizer of annual events such as the Christmas market, the annual dog sled race and the winter festival. The municipality spends more money than many other municipalities on cultural events, but considers this an investment in business development, as all cultural events lead to more visitors and increased activity. However, not all of these cultural events would take place without volunteers. According to the mayor, much of what is happening in Roros is volunteering: "It's as if the whole community is working together." This commitment is also important for the credibility of Roros as a brand.

The municipality has made great efforts to stimulate local business and industry. Today, she has been appointed head of value creation. According to our sources, this was of great importance. The municipality also has a plan for business development and value creation. It identifies seven areas of special attention: entrepreneurship and new enterprises, local industry, local trade, local food production and processing, tourism, the creative sector, and business related to the status of a World Heritage Site. The development of an urban center and the supply of "urban qualities" has also become a strategy.

The municipality works closely with the local destination management company and the business garden.

10.2.2 The business garden

Roros Business Garden is a development company that works to create value at the local and regional level. The business garden offers professional services for local entrepreneurs and companies. It organizes courses and seminars and has a flexible office space for rent, as well as an internship program.

Mountain internship program

The establishment of the mountain internship program in 2009 was an important strategy to increase local competence in Roros. This program attracts recent graduates to good and interesting temporary jobs in companies in Roros. The trainee gets a flying start to his career, and the company gets access to a high and modern qualification. After the internship, many participants are offered permanent positions in Roros and they settle in the municipality. Recruitment of new interns (and companies using interns) is done by the business garden.

The Business Garden also runs a program (funded by the district administration) aimed at increasing competence and capacity within tourism and the local food industry. The aim of this project is to create a national educational arena for local small food producers in order to increase professionalism and create growth in the sector of local food producers and smaller tourism enterprises.

10.2.3 The destination management company

Like other tourist destinations, Roros learned from his own experience that creating a destination is very important. The destination management company can coordinate participants, initiate and manage projects and last but not least lead strategic work related to marketing and building the reputation of the place: for Roros part of the strategy is to create an image based on quality and authenticity . The destination management company is working to get Roros permission to use the Sustainable Destination brand (compare Lerdal). Roros achieved this certification in 2013.

10.2.4 Status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Photo: Municipality of Roros

Roros was granted UNESCO World Heritage List status in 1980. It is a vital part of the community's understanding and appreciation of its local traditions. Today the local emphasis is on the quality and preservation of local architecture, cultures and traditions. This is the foundation for food, trade, events and experiences.

The status of a World Heritage Site has many positive effects as a result of strategic work. Two important specialist companies have established their headquarters in Roros: the National Center for Building Conservation and the National Heritage Fund. Cooperation with the Directorate of Cultural Heritage, the local museum and the local World Heritage Board (politicians and administration) is also important for activating local potential. Since the 80s, more than 100 full-time equivalent positions have been created as a direct consequence of the status of a World Heritage Site - many of them are specialized positions. This has helped make Roros a more dynamic and vibrant area.

10.2.5 Networks

Mass production to order

Several local companies have joined an innovative project for so-called mass production to order. The project is to offer quality and personalized products, but at the same time it is efficient and low cost. Some of the large industrial companies have joined forces and created this innovative project in collaboration with researchers and technologists. This is a strategy to sustain the life of local industry in an expensive country like Norway. The products are personalized, exclusive and of good quality. This strategy led to the renewal of the industry. The Norwegian Research Council is funding the research project.



Rorosmat (Roroshrana) is a network and brand of local small food producers, with an emphasis on quality. The network offers a shared platform for distribution, sales and marketing. This creates a better economy for small and vulnerable companies. Today, Roros products are sold throughout Norway. Rorosmat works with the destination management company and in line with the same concepts as the tourism industry as a whole: authenticity, quality and local uniqueness.

Photo: Rø

10.3 Results

  • Weak population growth
  • Larger number of tourists
  • Growth of local business
  • More companies are reinvesting profits in growth

10.4 Plans for future development

Stimulating and facilitating population growth. Given the status of a World Heritage site and protected areas, it is very important to find suitable areas for new housing.

Additional support for local industry through regulatory plans and infrastructure. Regulatory plans will help local industry grow faster and more efficiently.

Better knowledge of local business and industry.

Finding the right balance for growth. Too many tourists can ruin experiences and reputations.