Ambassadors involvement in promoting a region (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 Demographic change, campaign, youth, network, ambassador 

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. The main problem is less youngsters. Because young people leave the region to study elsewhere out of the region and only about a third comes back after their study to work in Zeeland Flanders. Others start their career and their social (family) life in the more urban areas of the Netherlands. Research found out that the reasons they give for not returning to their birth ground is: lack of career possibilities, lack of frequent and fast public transport, few jobs and few diversifications in jobs. So finding jobs for both partners is difficult. Once they are gone, it is difficult to reach those youngsters and stay in contact. That is why we started to built a social network with them in order to keep them involved in the region.

Policy frameworks to be dealt with/fitting in Existing social networks from service-clubs like Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions etcetera and regional politicians.

Aim of the project We give all young people who are graduated from secondary school a pin with the Zeeland Flanders flag. We ask them to wear it with pride and to promote our region to every outsider they will meet in their life. Besides that we ask them to join a “keep in touch contact website” where they can also find addresses for stages and possibilities for work. And we invite them to become a member of Rootzz, the young network started by the Kiwanis organisation, that holds “meet and greets” every 2 month, between senior members and youngsters.

(Expected) Results A natural born social network between seniors and juniors that grows by taking new young people in it every year. More quantity and quality future employees who are willing to work and live in the region (and come back after their studies).

(Expected) outcome within the WP We expect more involvement and more awareness of the region. We achieve more proud people that talk about the possibilities of the region and more youngsters that are interested in working in the region after their study or after their first career steps.

(Expected) outcome for the region as a whole Good future quality and quantity on the labour market for the companies in the region, because they are known by and became part of the social and economical network.

Planning continuously

Costs approximately € 3500 per year for around 2400 pins with the flag, € 500 for the organisation around it is within that price.

Financing Yearly budget of the organization Yournewfuture (put together by the partners every year)

Implementation of the project (cf. CAA)

which stakeholders were involved? All 5 secondary schools of Zeeland Flanders are involved. When the youth receive their certificate from the school board, the mayor, who is our president of the organisation, presents the first pin and tells the story: Why we want them to be proud of the region, to tell it to others and to stay in touch in the future, by a digital or social network.

what process did you run through to fit the project into local conditions? The flag was created (5 years ago) by a foundation and became very quickly well known. The three mayors accepted the flag in a formal way during a press conference. It became a symbol for the region. This Zeeland Flanders flag foundation started to give away the pins to the graduated school-leavers and asked the youngsters to become an ambassador. They could afford that action only once as a private foundation and we decided to adopt this action a year later. We already supported the idea the first time.

how did you sustainably implement the project (locally, regionally)? The flag-pin is now a well respected gift and the youth is anxious to get that pin. Only a few people besides them are also an ambassador. That happens on behalf of the board when somebody did a lot for the region during his or hers work or privately.

KEY QUESTIONS LIST 1 Which successes were achieved so far in the pilot project? The fact that every scholar wants to have that pin, even if they are on other secondary schools, outside the region, stands for the success. It is very easy to continue as long as the schools are pleased to work it out with us.

2 What are the expected boundary conditions for the project to be implemented? It is important to use a symbol that is really presenting the region. Our flag has become that status very quickly. You need to have enough pins and not to forget a group. So you need enough budgets every year. We always invite the media to publish something about it and that gives it an extra attention and image building in the region. Further on the schools must be willing to work with you and give you the opportunity to speak to their graduates. Be sure it is a symbol / title people want to have.

3 Which related projects can be studied or consulted (other innovative best practice examples) before starting to think on implementation? Other ambassador projects were started for businesses in the province of West-Vlaanderen and for Leijedal. See also the following link

4 What is the applicability / transferability of the project? You should see this as a little part of the puzzle within regional branding for the internal inhabitants. If you don’t do other actions it does not work. It is an additional action. Building networks strengthen your environment and keeps your stakeholders involved. That is an essential part of regional branding.

5 Which tools does the project bring in to alleviate / help starting up implementation elsewhere?

First: Find a symbol that is presenting the region that appeals to a lot of people and make them proud to wear or present it. It needs a yearly organised approach from the schools, the planning of the dates for the mayor, ordering the pins, reaching the press, and presenting the membership of the youth alumni, organisation Rootzz. It is very important during the following years to keep the network living and enlarge it.

6 Sustainability a) How is/can the project be sustainably implemented? What is needed to reach this? You need to be in touch with right contacts at the schools (in time to order enough pins every year.) It is the best to have the foundation Rootzz (social network seniors-juniors) part of it every year. Let the mayor or an other well known person present it to the scholars and tell the story why we want them to be proud of the region. Let the ambassadors feel themselves special and honoured with the gift.

b) what are the benefits of the project seen from the Profit, Planet, and People side? We create involvement from a larger group that is willing to consider working in the region after study or later on. Because they are part of the “old boys” network the feel more at home with the companies and entrepreneurs of the region. It influences them in a positive way.