The hands-on mentality from the coastal region and knowledge from Leiden form a winning combination. Peter Jongejan, Chairman of the Katwijk Entrepreneurs Association (Katwijkse Ondernemers Vereniging – KOV), is eager to tie both elements together.
“Contact between the Katwijk businesses and Leiden has been minimal for several years. In the past, we thought that Leiden had little to offer us. Our interests did not lie in the city. During the last fifteen years, Leiden has developed in a different direction so now we view the city as a good complement to what is happening in the greater Katwijk area: Rijnsburg, Katwijk and Valkenburg.
Leiden is a melting pot with many flavours. Leiden hospitality is also better organised than that in Katwijk. Katwijk can learn much from this.”
Support and Understanding
“Topics being addressed by Economie071 that interest us include a joint approach to infrastructure and mobility, culture and recreation. Thanks to Economie071 we meet more often and have got to know each other better. Some of the members are particularly good at connecting with people and are initiating this, such as Robert Strijk (Councillor for Leiden) and Willem te Beest (Board Member of the University of Leiden). Because we understand each other better, we are able to see more opportunities. After all, it is the entrepreneurs who ultimately carry out economic activities. However, you can only create entrepreneurship when you are appreciated and have support and understanding. For this you must first look each other in the eyes. Only then can you achieve your best.”
Networking – Of Course
“Economie071 provides a platform which is paramount as entrepreneurs want to network. That has to be provided in a natural and streamlined way because it cannot work when people are forced to meet.
As an entrepreneurs association we see it as our task to represent the interests of our members. We are also a sounding board and a starting point for making new developments possible. We do not invest in the Program Bureau of Economie071, taxes were invented for that. We do however, assist people in making connections more easily.”
More Entrepreneurs are Needed
“We joined Economie071 somewhat later, whereby we were only involved in the last stages of discussion about the new Retail Vision. In our opinion, there are not too many shops in the region, but there are too few opportunities for entrepreneurs. You should not slim down retail but provide the space necessary for entrepreneurs to make their ideas become reality. The district council should facilitate this as much as possible. Entrepreneurship is making something from nothing and having fun in the process, as well as earning a living of course.
Most people think in terms of the beaten track, for example in financing of new business plans. This is a pity because there are more possibilities than just the bank. You could also ask a manufacturer to financially participate in your plan; you then immediately have your first customer.”
“Here in Katwijk we can deliver practical solutions in many areas because there is a strong hands-on mentality. We are interested in all forms of education and knowledge; Leiden is much stronger in this.
Our fishing fleets travel around the entire world and have a production capacity reaching as far as the Falkland Islands. These fleets benefit from new technologies, such as drones for detecting schools of fish. A drone with radar equipment is much more agile than a ship. We are also interested in knowledge about distribution software and the application of big data.”
Sounding Board for HUBspot
“Together with Bart Hoenen from Area071, Rabobank Leiden Katwijk and Jan Remmelzwaal, we have set up the Katwijks Ondernemershuis (Katwijk Entrepreneurs House). The Katwijks Ondernemershuis has a wider scope than HUBspot, including a greater number of internships for people who are considered less employable. HUBspot is primarily focussed on starters, the Katwijks Ondernemershuis also does more with existing entrepreneurs. HUBspot and the Katwijks Ondernemershuis can do much together and reinforce each other’s work.
We also want to be a sounding board for HUBspot, because practically-minded people also deserve a place at the discussion table. There are plenty of ideas but you have to work with the right people to implement them.
I am keen to set up a fictitious company with ambitious graduates and lecture about it. Other entrepreneurs in Katwijk are also keen to share their experience and practical knowledge with the graduates.”
From Canal to the Dunes
“We expect a lot from regional marketing in drawing the attention of tourists to the entire region. In Beijing, there is only 50 minutes travel time between the Forbidden City and the Chinese Wall. We all still call that Beijing. Leiden and Katwijk could also be presented as such to tourists: one area with canals and historic buildings, and also a coastal line with dunes. A fantastic place with areas that complement each other and favour the different seasons.
It is interesting to see that we have separate cultures: in the different Katwijk villages, in Leiden and in the other districts that are members of Economie071.
It is extremely important to retain our individual identity. At the same time, we can do a lot for each other; we feel that the boundaries between the districts could be erased.”