Direct communication, quicker action and with results. Erna Kortlang, Chairperson for the Koepel Leidse Regio believes that the Economie071 partnership is an asset. It gives you a taste for more: more clout with the districts and spatial-economic themes put on the agenda.
The Koepel Leidse Regio is a consultative body comprising of the chairmen from all of the entrepreneur’s associations in the Leiden region, with the exception of Katwijk. It arose from the need to know each other better and to coordinate business with each other better. We often work with themes that transcend district boundaries, such as designing public spaces and executing participation laws.
The difficult labour market also keeps us busy. That particularly concerns technical vacancies at level MBO-4 and above. But even in my own notarial profession, it proves difficult to find new, good people.”
Finding Each Other Quickly
“Being an interests group, we like to maintain contact with governmental agencies and educational institutions. We like to work together with others and bring the interests of entrepreneurs to their attention. That is why Economie071 is a great achievement for us because we are now able to find each other quickly. We have forged good connections, can make changes more easily and be more direct in all aspects. We are very happy with this.”
Involvement of Expertise
“The Leiden region must maintain its position between Rotterdam/The Hague and Amsterdam. We need to have our own regional vision between these two strong regions, for example the retail vision. We have commissioned this vision through the steering group Economie071. We recognise the benefit and the necessity of it, but understand that this vision has not been received with joy by all entrepreneurs.
We coordinate the matters which have been discussed with each other in the Koepel, but we are not an elected body that can make binding decisions on behalf of all entrepreneurs. Our role in the steering group is therefore aimed at involving our expertise and in representing the best interests of our entrepreneurs.
That was not always clear to our supporters, which has been an important learning curve for us this last year. Next time we will begin by thinking about our contribution and define our role more clearly.”
“It is good that the government takes responsibility and tackles issues concerning the retail vision. This vision now clarifies where opportunities lie in the shopping districts.
The shopping centres outside of the main structure were thereby given the impression that they no longer mattered. That is not the case. The district has only identified those areas as being an area where other types of activity may also be possible. The shops there are also allowed to be converted to housing. Whether that happens will be determined by the entrepreneurs themselves. The government does not open or close shops, entrepreneurs do.”
Fusing of Municipalities
“Should the Leiden Bio Science Park want to expand, consultation is required with three different districts. We view that as being bizarre. This example clearly shows that issues about improved infrastructure and spatial planning of business parks does not end at a district’s boundary.
Therefore, we would like to see the districts merge together into a single body, so that the economic clout increases. That would have benefits in all kinds of areas: districts could make joint purchases and be a worthy player in the national network.
Fortunately, mutual trust in the districts is perfect at the moment. But we do not know how long the relationships between the different councillors will remain good. Hence our urgent desire: we have to make the best of it now.”
HUBspot Provides Momentum
“As an entrepreneurs’ association, we do not pay anything to the program office. We do not have the means to do so from the contributions made by the entrepreneurs. Furthermore, on principle we will not pay anything to the government because then we would no longer be able to exercise an independent role as an advocate for interests. However, entrepreneurs do contribute to individual projects, such as the Expat Centre. If we fund something, then it must clearly benefit all of our members. That is what their contributions are intended for.
Some good results have already been achieved through the Economie071 projects. Especially the HUBspot Leiden, the centre for innovation and entrepreneurship, I believe to be an extremely good initiative. There is a lot of dynamics in play and that creates opportunities for young people. Perfect, something is happening.”
Use of Space on the Agenda
“For the next step of Economie071, we would like a broadening of the agenda, so that spatial-economic issues also receive attention. For example, the Rhineland route is an important theme to us.
Now that the Oostvlietpolder is not going to become a business park, it is important that we search for regional alternatives where businesses can locate. Entrepreneurs have a particular need for more space in the area between Leiden and Katwijk. We have agreed a covenant with the Leiden district. It is vitally important that the other districts sign this and commit to it. We can only do this together.”