Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Grow through Activating Local Potential

5. Afjord


Main challenges: Depopulation and birth rate deficit
Main objectives: Increasing the number and influx of population
Local resources: Primary economic sector and local entrepreneurship

Wind and ocean, coastal areas

Local tradition of hard work and adaptation

Main explanations for the success: Cooperation between sectors (public sector, residents, business sector and other actors)

Ability to recognize and use the potential

5.1 Local context and challenges

Figure 8 Coat of arms and location

Afjord is a coastal municipality in central Norway (Trondelag). Its landscape includes both traditional agricultural lands in the inland valleys and fjords, islands and peninsulas stretching along the coast. Local business in this area is traditionally based on agriculture and fishing, but there is also a long tradition of entrepreneurship. The municipality has a little over 3300 inhabitants and 2 local centers. Arnes is the traditional commercial and administrative center, while Stokoia is a coastal leisure center.

After the Second World War, the municipality registered a decline in population, but around 2010 there was a reversal in this negative trend for the reasons discussed in the following sections. The creation of wind farms has opened up new opportunities for growth and future development for the municipality. Figure 9 shows the demographic and job development in Afjord since 2000.

Figure 9: Demographic and job development in Afjord, 2000-2019

Number of jobs; Population

The relatively short distance to Trondheim, the regional capital and the third largest city in Norway, is important for understanding local development strategies. Trondheim is a renowned university with curricula in the fields of energy, technology and maritime business. An important basis for growth in Afjord is the presence of a large company and established companies in the field of aquaculture.

5.2 Activation of local potential - who and what

5.2.1 The role of the municipality

According to our informant, the municipality as a whole is active and progressive, especially in cooperation with local businesses. "We are taking risks, not irresponsibly, but we are taking risks. We saw the potential in local and national initiatives. " The administration is focused on facilitating and efficiency in the exercise of its powers at the initiative of local industries and enterprises. To be more professional in business development, she set up a development company.

The municipality approved a strategic business development plan that reflects national strategies for renewable energy, tourism, maritime activities and trade.

The municipality has taken an active and uncompromising role in creating the wind farm. 2 billion euros have been invested in it. The municipality insisted that 20% of them be invested locally and reached an agreement. The state is now committed to using local businesses as much as possible, so at least 20% is invested in local businesses. "The municipality is working hard strategically so that it doesn't end like a Klondike."

The municipality is also working strategically to attract new residents. It focuses mainly on offering as much as possible of what can be offered in a city - in addition to all the qualities of rural areas. Its solution is to achieve an urban image on the foundation of a rural area.

According to our informant, Afjord's vision is inspired by the health sector in the municipality:

"To find our vision, we drew inspiration from local health professionals. The health sector in the municipality is a popular employer in the region. They attract people from other places. We wondered what they were doing. The answer is good leadership and management; they are constantly creative and innovative. ”

5.2.2 Afjord Development Company

Founded in 2010, Afjord Development is a development company co-owned by the municipality, the local bank and local businesses. The company is committed to the strategic work carried out to achieve local growth, in particular in the field of maritime industries, energy and tourism. The company's CEO focuses on developing local companies to supply the new wind industry with goods and services. Examples are local boat maintenance and repair shops and aquaculture equipment factories.

The municipality participates annually with about 100 euros, and the bank gives 000 euros.

5.2.3 Wind farms

In 2006, local politicians decided to build a wind farm in the municipality. The creation of wind farms has been the subject of much local and national debate on the sustainability of modern wind turbines for electricity generation. Nevertheless, developments in Afjord have led to increased activity in several sectors. The construction works require improved infrastructure - a new bridge and two new tunnels were built with national funding. As the builders chose to transport the turbines overland, they financed a new road.

The local community provides as many of the required construction services as possible. We are looking for services related to transport, garages, cranes and lifting equipment, tools, fuel, waste and accommodation, as well as human resources for cleaning and administration.

Center for development and use of energy from renewable sources.

The development of wind energy has made Afjord a center for the production of energy from renewable sources. To further use local knowledge in this area, the municipality has established a Center for Development and Use of Energy from Renewable Sources. The aim is to create a cluster of national knowledge in the field of green energy in Afjord. The Center for Renewable Energy consists of several companies that rent offices and studios, but there are also offices for students. Local builders are building the house.

5.2.4 Creating a more urban look

To achieve a more urban look to Afjord, the municipality has developed an urban municipal shopping center and an urban creative center. To ensure that the local community will remain, the municipality has decided to take action in several areas. One of these measures is to offer more than what young people are looking for today. For example, to offer smaller houses and apartments. Also, the center should have a more urban look. Today, Afjord has a small urban center, achieved through municipal regulation. According to our informant, this process was somewhat challenging and controversial, as it was difficult to convince people that the urban center was more important than preserving the old rural structure. Another strategy is to create social arenas for both employees and locals, as Norwegians tend to work in separate offices and stay home after work. Creating a more urban infrastructure for social life largely means changing local culture and traditions, the mayor said.

Another example related to the creation of a more urban center is the application of the municipality of Afjord for a wine monopoly store (in Norway, wine and alcoholic beverages are sold exclusively with a license from the state monopoly). Today, fewer residents drive to the regional city center to shop on weekends.


5.2.5 Arts, creators and creative activities

Afjord has created a distinctive urban look through a variety of projects initiated by entrepreneurs from the creative sector. The municipality contributed to this with plans and regulations. The development company has a small grant scheme for entrepreneurs.

Sea center and beach bar in Stock

This center is the key company when it comes to tourism and events in Afjord. Located on an old farm offering food and accommodation. The center is inspired by traditional local architecture and nature; the food is local, and sustainable activities such as cycling and kayaking are also available. Through the export of food, a network of chefs from all over the world has been created, who also come to visit.

"Made in Afjord"

There are a large number of small producers of local food and works of arts and crafts in Afjord. Made in Afjord is a shared digital platform for selling and marketing small businesses producing quality local products.

"Bigda 2.0."

Bigda 2.0 is both a physical building and a project. The idea behind "Bigda 2.0." ("Village 2.0.") Is to create a unique and urban environment for living and working in this rural municipality, with an emphasis on architecture, food, arts and culture. This project is about creating new social structures, modern ways of life, energy from renewable sources and experiences related to food and nature - almost like a micro-city. As a result of the project, both residential areas and places for production, offices, events and cultural events have been built. The spectacular building called "Bigdeboxen" (Village Box) is located on the rocky shores overlooking the sea and is an attraction in itself.

Photo: Bigda.2.0.

5.3 Results

  • 2% population growth in 2018.
  • High results on many of the indicators used to measure Norwegian municipalities.
  • He is still in a vulnerable position.

5.4 Plans for future development

Development of a Strategic Business Plan with additional measures and goals.