Attracting people to your region: Emigration Exhibition (NL)

Project partners Trade and industry, institutions and the three municipalities in the region Zeeland Flanders. Furthermore co-operation is rendered by representatives from real estate development, the tourist industry, education, medical care, housing, banking, public services and interim bureaus.

Contact data
Jeannette Groeneveld-Verdonk
tel: 0031 653253840
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Key words Unique selling points, campaign, demographic changes, profile

Main problems to be solved (analysis) Awareness of demographic changes, more elder people, less youngsters and decline of population in the near future, put the hands together from partners above. We realised there will be a future problem to fulfil the labour market for our companies, entrepreneurs and institutions. Out of research it was found that the region is not well known in the Netherlands. We had hardly any reputation at all. So people did not know what to expect in terms of work, houses, environment, living and culture, and did not even think about looking for jobs and houses in our region. We decided we wanted to change that in a positive way and we created a network organisation based on a gentlemen’s agreement. Our goal is to strengthen the well known name and positively influencing the Zeeland Flanders image, necessary to increase the vitality of Zeeland-Flanders society and economy. Beside promotion of the region and profiling Zeeland-Flanders, cross border development of the labour market and the stimulation of immigration are also fields of co-operation.

Policy frameworks to be dealt with/fitting in Euregio Scheldemond, besides the local, provincial and national authorities.

Aim of the project One of the initiatives we explore is presenting the region as a good alternative to emigrate to when leaving the crowded and stress full city side of the Netherlands. By presenting ourselves at the emigration exhibition that takes place every year. We got plenty of quality work and are an attractive area to live in, buy or hire your own house for a reasonable price and find space and good facilities. Our industrial surrounding worry about the future quantity and quality of employees due to the foreseen decrease of population and demographic changes.

We trigger people to inscribe them as interested in moving to our region in the future. We stay in touch with those people to keep them informed about the possibilities to move and help them to find their way if they want to. This continuation demands a good organisation and a reliable backoffice. We stay in touch with them and they have a place to ask their questions (by telephone, in person, by email-contact or website.).

(Expected) Results Immigration of young and elderly people to work and live in our part of the country. Zeeland-Flanders becomes better known by more people as a good working and living area all over the Netherlands (and in Flanders).

(Expected) outcome within the WP a. Better name-recognition and awareness of the qualities of the region b. Advertising and editorial attention in the media before and during the emigration exhibition, by always taking a special item to profile with. c. More visitors per year on the website (in 2011: 28.160 visitors from which 19.027 unique ones, growth of 4.800 ). More potential interested and inscribed people for immigration. (now over 350 people are structurally inscribed and use the facilitation power we offer for taking the final step to move). Over 130 moved as a direct result of our facilitation in the last 5 years. Others came on their own and found their own way to settle here. d. People talking about us in a positive way and about our way of organising promotion and back office.

(Expected) outcome for the region as a whole (impact of the project; effects may be written in terms of the sustainability triangle = 3 P approach (people, planet, profit), i.e. benefits on the social, economical and physical part) • A stronger and more vital population with extra new coming inhabitants compared to the amount we would have had without our actions. • Broader results on name recognition are reached. • In longer terms Zeeland Flanders will be a stronger region economical and socially on the world market.

Planning 2008 – 2014 (or longer)

Costs Presence at the emigration exhibition costs each year around 60.000 Euro ( 49 % entrepreneurs, 49 % municipalities , 2 % Vital rural area WP 2) Each year we present an other item (quietness and space for good living, super culinary high standard restaurants, enough good solid work to offer, cross-border work and living opportunities).

Financing entrepreneurs, housing and building companies, the 3 municipalities of the region, Vital Rural Area WP 2, plus sometimes project subsidising by the province.

Implementation of the project (cf. CAA)

which stakeholders were involved? All three municipalities and their politicians, trade and industry associations and institutions in the region Zealand Flanders. Furthermore co-operation is rendered by representatives from real estate development, the tourist industry, education, medical care, housing, banking, public services and interim bureaus.

What process did you run through to fit the project into local conditions? We looked for cooperation between the most important stakeholders of the region. Synergy and rising budget to create a more sustainable combination was the start. The presentation of the region at the emigration exhibition is part of a total regional branding concept. Part of it is advertising, a logo, a website, the BackOffice and each year a gadget and for all good steady information about the region (on work, houses, living). We started and maintain the BackOffice for the individual contacts. We also built a large network to bundle all forces to cooperate on this vitalisation of the region and to enlarge our strength and public support. We created ways to stay in touch with the young students who leave the region, in order to have them back later on in their career. We try to influence students to study nearby at the Belgian Colleges and Universities, to keep them in the neighbourhood.

how did you sustainably implement the project (locally, regionally)? We need decisions about the next budget year and we report on the last year to all our participants. Further on we have to evaluate every three years to demand all partners for continuation. In 2012 is decided to continue three more years on the same base.The fact that all parties were positive indicates a positive mind for these activities.


1 Which successes were achieved so far in the pilot project? Now over 350 people are structurally inscribed and use the facilitation power we offer for taking the final step to move). Over 130 moved as a direct result of our facilitation in the last 5 years. Others came and found their own way to settle here. This is not only an effect of the presentation at the emigration exhibition, but a result of all activities by the organisation Yournewfuture. It is not possible to measure the results on this specific action.

2 What are the expected boundary conditions for the project to be implemented? You need at least an agreement of three years to start, with a continuously year budget that is enough to do several actions and organise the BackOffice. There has to be internal and external effect each year. Structural involvement and enthusiasm from all partners is needed. You need a reliable and patient board and patient politicians. There is no immediate and constant effect; it is more about the longer terms.

3 Which related projects can be studied or consulted (other innovative best practice examples) before starting to think on implementation? Look at other regions that have similar problems demographically but do have a good strong position at the labour market and a vast hinterland.

4 What is the applicability / transferability of the project? Branding your region is one of the ways to demand attention for the region from abroad To be effective this project can‘t be done just once. It has to be part of a total concept of regional branding, with a back office to support the potential future inhabitants. It needs a lot of support within the region. Branding works only on longer terms. See also the branding model we developed together. The advertisement, media attention around the action should be as spectacular as possible. The Back Office for interested people should be okay and steady as information point. All contacts should lead to “satisfied costumers” All participants (and politicians) should be proud of the action and support it. You have to do it good or not.

5 Which tools does the project bring in to alleviate / help starting up implementation elsewhere? It is an example of a possible activity within a total concept of regional branding, presenting yourselves, with images and people at fairs and exhibitions. You need a concept, your unique selling points, stand material, brochures etc. It takes a lot of people and organisation to be present there. You need to create possible special media moment each year to contribute to participate at the emigration exhibition as a region. It demands (each year a list of) passionate people to go with you and do the job at the exhibition itself. You need to introduce the people to the job and arrange that they are scheduled and arrive at the right time, drive together etc. All organisation at the stand is teamwork and feeling for hospitality.

6 Sustainability a) How is/can the project be sustainably implemented? What is needed to reach this? You need a rather big group of participants that believe in starting the activity. The budget should be at least € 25.000 for the stand and some more for brochures and advertising. You need a really good BackOffice to work out the effects, while interested people should be given an answer and structural in contact. That demands another budget and expert hours and facilities at least another amount of €100.000 is likely to be needed.

b) what are the benefits of the project seen from the Profit, Planet, and People side? Synergy, no wasting energy and money in separate, small actions, cooperation leads to one broader approach, a higher level and it can reach a lot of people. The recognition will be stronger, the own inhabitants become more involved and proud and tell it to others. It influences the social and cultural network. Structural cooperation strengthen the network, it makes people find each other easier, also for other matters.