Sunday, 23 January, 2022

Grow through Activating Local Potential


2. Fryoya

Daloya, Froya. Photo: Istock.com

Main challenges: Keeping up with the high population growth and growth in the local marine industries One sided structure of industry the rate of high population growth and growth of local maritime industries

Unilateral structure of the industry

Main objectives: To be a leading international actor in marine industries
Local resources: Nature (marine resources and tourism), competence within the marine industries
Main explanations for the success: Flexibility, close cooperation with the business community, local ownership

2.1 Local context and challenges

Figure 8 Coat of arms and location

Frøja is the most remote island off the coast of Trondelag in central Norway and has almost 5000 inhabitants. The municipality includes the island of Freya and 5400 small islands and islets around the main island. There are two large settlements on Froya: Titran to the west and Sistranda (the administrative center) to the east. The landscape of Froy can be characterized as open, treeless, flat, with many small lakes.

The municipality is highly dependent on fish and aquaculture, with 50% of the value creation in Frøja related to this sector.[2]. Fish farming is especially important. Along with fish farming, other important industries are the food industry and transport. Agriculture is an important secondary source of income for many residents, mainly related to sheep farming. Freya is the largest supplier of wild sheep in Norway.

The proximity to the sea and the flat landscape make Freya an ideal place for wind energy. Titran is home to Norway's first modern wind farm. But the further development of wind energy has sparked much local debate and protest. Business interests and environmental interests are at odds.

In the 90s and the beginning of this century, the development in Frøja was characterized by a reduction in population and the number of jobs. That has changed dramatically. In the last 10 years, Froy has seen remarkable population growth and job growth in industry and trade.

During the period 2009-2018, the population increased by over 20% and the number of jobs in industry and trade - by 35%.

Figure 19 shows the demographic development and the development of the number of jobs in Freya since 2000.

Figure 19: Demographic development and job development in Freya, 2000-2019.

Number of jobs; Population

The measurement of attractiveness shows that Frøja is the second most attractive municipality in Norway for the period 2009-2018. Overall, this successful development can be explained by the growth of the fish and aquaculture industries in Frøja. This is surprising, as these industries do not register the same growth across the country. The growing dependence on several industries means that Froy is more vulnerable to changing market conditions in these industries. The success in Frøja is therefore also a result of how the municipality has coped with this growth.

2.2 Activation of local potential - who and what

2.2.1 The role of the municipality

In the municipal business development plan for the period 2014-2018, Froya has a very clear strategy. In preparing the plan, the municipality conducted SWOT analyzes for various sectors and held a seminar with the participation of local business organizations, regional participants and a research institute. The plan outlines six priorities:

  • Exploiting the benefits of Frey. These advantages are in the maritime industry and shipping. The municipality also wants to give priority to culture and the creation of value based on nature, local renewable energy and the expert center. The plan shows a clear desire to give priority to these industries.
  • Froya wants to be a leading international player in the maritime industries. Aquaculture is the engine of the municipality. That is why it is very important to support the business in terms of available space, business conditions, work, competence and image building.
  • Knowledge and competence. This is related to increasing competence, education and research.
  • Staff recruitment. The municipality wants to be attractive to both potential newcomers and people who have lived in Freya, such as young people who have gone to study.
  • Attractive and competitive business conditions. This applies to both potential new businesses and existing businesses. It is especially important for the municipality to have an infrastructure that is suitable for business demand.
  • Improvement of the central area around Sistranda. This is done in part by giving priority to the construction of housing near the center, attracting more shops and focusing on shops in the center.

When describing the success of the municipality, our informant points out three other main factors: the ability to adapt to changing market conditions in the maritime industries, close cooperation between the municipality and the business community and local commitment on the part of the largest companies in Freya.

Between 2004 and 2005, Froya recorded low growth in the local economy and depopulation. The municipality managed to change this situation through cooperation between the municipal administration, politicians, the business community, civil society and residents. As a small municipality heavily dependent on the development of the maritime industries, Froya had to deal with these fluctuations. According to our informant, this increased the opportunities for adaptation in the municipality. Plans and goals are important, but just as important is the ability to change course when needed. In addition, there has been a very close cooperation between the municipality and the business community for a long time.

The municipality strives to adapt to the needs of local industries. In return, the business community contributes by taking social responsibility and supporting initiatives that improve the quality of life of all Froe residents, such as the gym, leisure activities and expert center described in the next section. The fact that the largest companies in Freya have local owners contributes to their willingness to invest in the community. These investments are also in the interest of the business community, as they increase the quality of the local community in which the employees of the companies work and live.

Towing of Aquaculture Farm 1 in Freya, the world's first coastal fishery. Photo: Salmar.

2.2.2 Improving professional qualification and hiring skilled labor

In line with its strategy to become a leading player in the maritime sector, the municipality of Froya, together with local and regional actors, has taken an active role in promoting professional development, knowledge and recruitment in the maritime sector. This is important in order to be able to recruit labor in line with the needs of the maritime industries. In addition, the municipality has taken measures to increase the competence and recruitment of staff in the municipal services.

Expert center

In 2016, a center called “Blått Kompetansesenter” was opened in Frøja (blått is “blue” in Norwegian and refers to the ocean and maritime industries). The aim of the center is to link education, business and research in the maritime industries. The vision of the center is closely linked to the ambition to develop a leading world education in the field of aquaculture and fisheries. The center also has links to the overall regional strategy for the development of maritime industries in the region.

The center is organized as a private business with several shareholders, of which the district administration owns 35% and the municipality of Froya - 4,7%. Other major shareholders are business organizations and shipping companies in the area. The premises of the center are rented to various participants involved in the development of skills in Freya. This includes local companies (both in the maritime industry and in other industries), the local business organization, a research institute and education and research organizations.

 

Cooperation between educational institutions and the business community

Since 2012, the regional university "Norwegian University of Life Sciences" (NTNU) has a formal cooperation with the maritime business community in Freja and the local high school, which is strongly profiled in the field of fish farming and aquaculture. The cooperation is expressed in the organization of a conference twice a year, which provides a forum for meetings of business, students and representatives of the university.

Cooperation is of great importance for the exchange of competences between the business community and educational institutions. For example, it has led to collaborations on the testing of new technologies and over 100 master's theses on industry-related issues in Freya.

In 2017, the cooperation was officially expanded to cover the entire coast of Trondelag and the Sogn og Fjordane region.

The Frey Package

In 2014, the municipality of Frøya launched a recruitment initiative called the Frøya-pakken or the Frøya Package. Recently hired permanent employees in municipal services with three years of higher education or more were offered a salary increase (higher rank) as well as a forgiveness of the student loan from the municipality. The package also provides free six-month membership at the local gym, passes for local festivals and free entry to the local swimming pool for one year.

The intention behind the initiative is to make Froya a more attractive place to relocate and to increase the employment of teachers, nurses and other suitable professions in municipal services.

In addition to the Froya Package, the municipality has taken measures to improve the professional qualifications of existing employees by facilitating continuing education and decentralized education.

2.3 Results

  • 20% population growth for the period 2009-2018
  • 35% growth in the number of jobs for the period 2009-2018
  • Cooperation and professional development between the municipality, local business and educational institutions

2.4 Plans for future development

In 2015, Froya adopted a new municipal master plan (the social element) for the period 2015-2027. The plan emphasizes the strong commitment to professional development and cooperation between the municipality, maritime industries and educational institutions.

The continued growth of maritime industries creates opportunities, but also increases the pressure on the municipality's ability to adapt to the needs of local businesses. For example, there is a need to prepare appropriate areas for business. Population growth puts the same pressure on the municipal services provided to the residents of Freya[3]. The municipality's ability to meet this challenge continues to grow with continued growth.