Sunday, 23 January, 2022

Grow through Activating Local Potential


11. Inderoy

Photo: Jelena Safronova / iStock.com

Main challenges: Weak population growth and vulnerable enterprises in key local industries
Main objectives: Development of Inderoy as an area for local food, culture and tourism
Local resources: Human resources, agriculture / local food industry, culture and cultivated landscape
Main explanations for the success: Joint efforts of the non-profit formations among the local participants from the sectors related to the local food industry, culture and tourism, organized through cooperation

11.1 Local context and challenges

Figure 20 Coat of arms and location

The municipality of Inderoy has a population of nearly 6800 and is located on two peninsulas in the innermost part of Trondheimfjord in the Trondelag district, a two-hour drive from Trondheim (Norway's second largest city). The geographical appearance is characterized by a cultivated landscape and sea. In 2012, Inderoy merged with the neighboring municipality of Mosvik. The municipal center of Inderoy is Straumen, a name that comes from the strong tidal current in the narrow water throat between the fjords Trondheim and Borgen. Agriculture and food production based on local products are important industries for Inderoy, and the municipality has a large production of grain, potatoes and fruits, as well as beef, pork and poultry.

Measured by the attractiveness indicator, Inderoy has not been very successful in the last decade. In the period 2009-2018 there is a small increase in the number of jobs, mainly related to the growth in the regional industries and the overall population growth in the region. In terms of demographic development, the trend is not so positive. In the last decade, Inderoy has had a weak positive population growth. Figure 21 shows the demographic and job development in Inderoy since 2000.

Figure 21: Demographic and job development in Inderoy, 2000-2019

Number of jobs; Population

Therefore, Inderoy was not chosen as a case because of its overall appeal. Inderoy's success is related to the development of a business cooperative that works for quality experiences on the peninsula. The cooperative bears the name The Golden Tour and since its founding in the 90s, it has become a well-known brand and a great success.

11.2 Activation of local potential - who and what

11.2.1 The role of the municipality

It can be seen from the Municipal Master Plan that Inderoy's vision is "better together". It symbolizes both the ambition and the way the municipality and society as a whole work. The ambition is to create the best possible conditions for citizens, business and professional life. The way of work is close cooperation at all levels: cooperation within the municipal organization, cooperation between the municipal organization, business, non-profit organizations and citizens and cooperation between the municipality and organizations and institutions outside the region. The main goals are the following:

  • Inderoy to be a viable and attractive municipality in the heart of the Trondelag district
  • Inderoy to build quality of life and culture for the future, to achieve population growth, greater profitability and more jobs in the private sector
  • Inderoy Municipality to provide quality services to its citizens

As mentioned in section 11.2, Inderoy's success story is related to the development of the Golden Tour, a cooperative that works for quality experiences on the peninsula. In the rest of the analysis of this case we will focus less on the role of the municipality and more on the cooperation. This does not mean that the municipality was insignificant; on the contrary, it was very important for the establishment of the cooperative and still provides financial support.

11.2.2 The Golden Tour

The Golden Tour is both a journey, a cultivated landscape and a cooperative.

Let's look first the journey. At Inhered in the Trondelant region, you can continue straight on the motorway through Norway or turn onto the Golden Tour (Den Gyldne Omvei) in Inderoy. The detour takes more time, but in all likelihood you will never regret what you will experience along the way.

A map showing some of the members of the cooperative along the route of the Golden Tour, such as a distillery, a slaughterhouse, a brewery, a cheese factory, an accommodation complex, an art store and gallery, a museum, etc. Source: DGO.no

Inderoy boasts one of the most majestic cultivated landscapes in Norway, which together with the sea and the special light here have inspired artists and writers for hundreds of years. The Golden Tour is a fascinating journey, full of suppliers offering high quality products of their own production.

The idea of cooperation was born during a seminar on culturally based business development, organized by the municipality in the late 90s of last century. Inderoy has a rich cultural life with many artists, institutions and activities, hence the cultural emphasis.

After the seminar, the municipal head of business development gathered ten suitable companies to establish a cooperative The Golden Tour. What all the companies invited to join had in common from the very beginning was that they were well-arranged, centrally located on the bypass and known for the high quality of their goods and products. The established companies were active in the fields of accommodation and housing, catering, retail and trade, arts and crafts, workshops and galleries, production of local specialties - food and beverages, as well as adventure and active tourism. Today, the cooperative has 18 members, each of whom is a place to visit along the route of the Golden Tour. The cooperative was established on the basis of the following common understandings of the founders:

  • Co-marketing is cost effective
  • The common sign makes us more visible as a destination
  • The way we should go is to show the majestic cultivated landscape in marketing
  • We are stronger together - it is better to cooperate than to compete

The Golden Tour Cooperative conducts joint marketing and initiates joint development projects related to the business interests of the members. Members must comply with strict quality requirements, and the cooperative operates in a highly professional, collegial and social environment. To become a member of the cooperative, the company must write an application to convince the other members that it will enrich the Golden Tour and can offer products or services of high quality, pleasant atmosphere, predictable and affordable working hours, etc. In addition, a two-thirds majority is required.

Organization, financing and cooperation

As we have already explained, the Golden Tour is organized as a people-oriented cooperative, owned by enterprises and controlled and managed by and for the members in order to realize their common goals and aspirations. The cooperative is democratically controlled by the rule "one member, one share, one vote". In addition, it has a board of directors and six or seven meetings of the members are held annually in addition to the meetings of the various working groups. The cooperative is largely governed by the non-profit efforts of the members, and the board members receive little or no remuneration.

Initially, comprehensive work was done on the statute and operational documents, guaranteeing equality between the smaller and larger members of the cooperative, which, according to our informants, was an important basis for building cohesion, continuity and a strong brand.

Growth problems

After a few years, the cooperative began to experience problems related to growth, such as the need for better marketing and more capital, increased demand and expectations among tourists, difficulties in coordinating the growing number of member companies with different levels of ambition, common challenges in the agricultural sector, the growing workload of key members and the need for a person who could work with the cooperative on a full-time basis. In short, there was a need for professionalization.

To meet these challenges, they received financial support from the municipality of Inderoy and Innovation Norway for a marketing project to reach a wider range of potential visitors. In addition, they partnered with local and regional tour operators and hired a cashier and secretary to assist the board chairman. Today, when asked what are the main strengths of the cooperative, our informants point out the following:

  • A variety of products, services, activities and adventures in a small geographical area and a beautiful cultivated landscape. High quality business and nice hosts
  • Openness - tourists are given "free access" to the premises of farmers and local food and beverage producers. This enhances authenticity, identity and authenticity
  • Instead of competing, members recommend each other to tourists and visitors
  • Cooperation is growing slowly, thus avoiding internal unrest, which, of course, could destroy the climate of cooperation.
  • Good relations with the municipality and local and regional tour operators
  • Good information directories

In the next section we present some of the participants in the cooperative and the experiences they offer.

11.2.3 Gangstad Farm

Photo: Ole Morten Melgaard / ysteri.no

Halfway between Straumen in Inderoy and the Steinker Regional Center is the Gangstad Farm and Cheese Factory, which has been part of the cooperative since its inception. The farm is widely known for its award-winning cheeses and high-quality dairy products made from the farm's milk. Their blue cheese (Nidelven Edel Blå) was awarded super gold and was highlighted as one of the best 84 cheeses in the world during the World Cheese Awards in Italy in 2019.

The farm also offers a variety of ice creams with different flavors, yogurts, biscuits and a selection of marmalades. Their products are now available in selected shops and restaurants across the country. In summer you can sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee and ice cream in the farm yard.

11.2.4 Nils Aas Art Workshop

The Nils Aas Art Workshop combines a museum, gallery and seminar venue. It is located in Straumen - the municipal center of Inderoy. The workshop is named after one of the most famous Norwegian sculptors, Nils Aas, who grew up in Straumen. In addition to the permanent exhibition on the life and work of Nils Aas, the venue presents temporary exhibitions of contemporary Norwegian and Scandinavian art. The workshop is open for visits during the summer season. A few steps from the workshop you will find the famous sculpture park Mustre, widely known for its botany.

The permanent exhibition of the Nils Aas art workshop. Photo: Nils Aas art workshop.

11.2.5 Berg Farm and Inderoy Distillery

Berg Farm joins the ranks of local high-quality food producers. They produce meat from winter-fed sheep and free-range pigs, as well as grain and cumin. Their products are processed on the farm, sold in the farm shop or served in the restaurant on the farm. The restaurant seats up to 80 people, who can enjoy a menu full of local food and drinks.

In 2015, the farm established the Inderoy Aquavit Distillery. Aquavit is a distilled grain and potato alcohol flavored with various herbs produced in Scandinavia since the 15th century. The Inderoy distillery is the first aquavit producer in the Trondelag district in 116 years. They combine old traditions and recipes with innovation and experimentation with new taste experiences.

11.2.6 Stability mark

In 2016, the Golden Tour was awarded the Sustainable Destination by Innovation Norway and was one of the first destinations in Norway and Europe to achieve this status. Of the cases described in this report, Lerdal, Roros and Trysil have also achieved this status. See section 6.2.5 in Lerdal's presentation to describe the scheme for awarding a mark of resilience.

11.3 Results

  • Cooperation as an organizational form has proven to stimulate cooperation and exchange of experience between its member companies, according to themselves. Members believe that an important factor for success is their strong sense of belonging to the concept. At the same time, success largely depends on a few individual members who ensure that new projects and initiatives progress well.
  • The members of the Golden Tour offer a wide range of products, services and activities. Through their collaboration, they made Inderoy a famous area and attracted more visitors.
  • Joint marketing efforts have enabled members to reach a wider group of customers and visitors, leading to increased direct sales and more profitable and sustainable businesses. In 20 years, the member companies have increased their total annual revenues from NOK 35 million to NOK 105 million.

11.4 Plans for future development

  • As mentioned, the Golden Tour is a certified sustainable tourist destination. The cooperative is now in the midst of a re-certification process. This is a bureaucratic and expensive procedure that requires too much resources for a small regional participant. More than 100 sustainability criteria must be met and monitored. The goal before us is to be certified again without spending too much money and resources on the process.
  • The second challenge in the future will be to align the organization, use internal resources and distribute tasks among members in an even better way than now. This includes getting all individual members to contribute more.