Avant-guards of improvement
The west coast of Finland is constantly developing through newly emerging innovations, companies, and collaborations. In the midst of this bustle, some players are taking a lead. Those players are the Regional Councils—the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia and the Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia—who operate as provincial strategic planners, regional development measures coordinators, regional planners, and trustees.
“Our goal is to create a dynamic region built around its strengths, but at the same time to develop smaller sectors as well,” says Kaj Suomela, Executive Director at the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia.
According to Suomela, comprehensive development is built on three fundamental pillars: technical know-how, high levels of education, and resident satisfaction. Compared to the rest of Finland, the area has a high employment rate, indicating healthy people with good quality of life.
“We are also famous for our energy and bio clusters, which produce a lot of economic vitality. Developing these technical strengths requires a high level of education in the region. In education and research, we are investing in things such as international cooperation, which allow us to further increase the region’s competitiveness,” Suomela says.
Jukka Yli-KarjulaThe Regional Mayor of Central Ostrobothnia, Jukka Ylikarjula, agrees with Suomela, but also draws attention to the cooperation between the Regional Councils taking place in anticipation of the municipal merger coming into effect in 2020.
“Provincial strategies should already be drawn up to include cooperating across municipal borders, and this is exactly what we have been doing. The battery industry is a good example of the way we have combined our own strength, that is the bioeconomy, with the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia’s strength, that is energy know-how, to benefit both parties,” Ylikarjula says.
The future prospects are good for both provinces, and the Regional Councils have a positive view for the future.
“15 years of development have created a solid foundation for our operations, but we must not become complacent. We have to continue to actively develop the region,” Ylikarjula notes.
“Comprehensive development allows us to create an even more vibrant west coast, and we strive to guide the region’s activities towards this goal,” Suomela adds.