The further out to the edge of the country, the lower the prosperity. This emerges from a study by Rabobank on regional economic development. The country has been divided into 40 regions for this purpose. “What you see is that the so-called A2 axis, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven, is doing well,” said Otto Raspe, one of the authors of the report. »The growth is above average. The Wageningen region with Food Valley and Zwolle and Apeldoorn is also doing better than average. ”
Inequality between the good and less performing regions is increasing. “The strong regions are getting an increasing share of the economic cake,” Raspe says. However, this does not mean that the regions that are lagging behind will become poorer. The pie is also growing so the regions are getting richer, but most of the wealth gain goes to the rich regions.
The fast-growing regions are benefiting from a few developments. “Knowledge, creativity and innovation are important for growth. And many of these innovative companies, such as fintech companies, are choosing Amsterdam and the Utrecht region. Eindhoven has again clearly chosen the high-tech manufacturing industry, ”says Raspe.
It is no coincidence that companies establish themselves there. There are knowledge institutions like universities, many similar companies and a well-educated workforce. And the more companies establish themselves, the more likely similar companies will settle there. “It’s the snowball effect.”
Wageningen proves with its agricultural university that the attractive effect of a university can be great. An entire cluster of food companies has now settled there in Food Valley, one of the world’s leading research and development centers in the world of food.
But the presence of a university is no guarantee of growth, warns Raspe. “The Arnhem-Nijmegen region, for example, is not doing very well in terms of growth. To become attractive, there must be good cooperation between the state, the university and the business community. They did very well in Eindhoven. But you see that much less in, for example, Nijmegen and Groningen. ”
The Twente region also enjoys too little of the current university. “But he was also unlucky that many start-ups were soon moving to Amsterdam.” They have now handled things better in Twente, says Raspe. “It shows that the university is now becoming the focal point of regional development.”
Not all Randstad is above average
In addition to the A2 axis, the rapid growth in the Apeldoorn and Zwolle regions is particularly striking. “These regions are a bit of an overflow area for the Randstad urban area,” says Raspe. Incidentally, not all of Randstad performs above average. Rotterdam is growing along with the national average, while the Hague region is lagging behind. This is because the fast-growing activity is less there. Rotterdam, for example, is still heavily dependent on chemicals and logistics, two industries with relatively low growth.
The farther a region is away from the successful regions, the lower the growth. That in itself is not news. Twenty years ago, Limburg also lagged behind Randstad. But that backlog is not a law. There are certainly opportunities for regions that are lagging behind. “It simply came to our notice then. Choose a clear niche. Limburg has a lot of chemistry. Focus on green chemistry or the materials industry. In Groningen, the energy transition offers opportunities, hydrogen for example, ”says Raspe.
To seize the opportunities, there must be good cooperation between governments, business and knowledge institutions. It must be made attractive for companies to establish themselves in the periphery. This also requires a good living and working climate. In other words, sufficient houses, recreational opportunities and good cultural facilities, but also good accessibility and investment in the education of people.