Phase II Urban
Alexandroupolis is the second largest city of the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, with a population of 50,000. Located at the extreme East of the European Union, the city is relatively isolated albeit strategically positioned as a "gateway" to the East. Nationally, Greece is implementing a strategic development plan focusing on two geographical axes: the North-South axis, Athens-Thessaloniki, and the East-West axis, Igoumenitsa-Alexandroupolis. The city is well positioned to form international links with both the Black Sea region and Eastern European countries.
Nonetheless, Alexandroupolis suffers from a variety of problems including a lack of facilities to disseminate information about activities within the city, insufficient provision of information about investment opportunities for the business community, and a lack of international co-operation and networking. Its eastern part in particular suffers from social deprivation due to the fact that a high proportion of its residents is in a low income bracket and there is a weak social infrastructure. The regions important ecological and natural features are not adequately exploited. The tertiary sector (especially the commercial-tourism field) is in decline and there is a high rate of unemployment amongst former Soviet Union Pontian immigrants and the young.
The objective of the ALEX-POLINET project is to address the above problems and to strengthen the citys international links and "image" through the use of Information Technologies and through taking full advantage of the local economic, cultural and ecological resources. The project is conceived in the context of a local re-generation strategy which includes a regional development programme of ECU 689 million (to be implemented during 1995-2000). It is expected to significantly contribute to the transformation of a remote and peripheral city into a new international gateway by using the opportunities offered by the technological developments in the information and communications field. In addition, the projects commitment to using the latest technological expertise to promote the socio-economic integration of minority and disadvantaged groups offers new lessons for urban policy.
The project comprises four main actions:
The interesting aspect of the projects proposed strategy is the use of Information Technology as a platform of support for regenerating the city. The approach is fully integrated: a partnership across local development groups; capitalisation of local resources which, in this case, are the areas significant ecological resources; and complementary measures aimed at the socio-economic integration of minority and disadvantaged groups. It is an innovative project for a medium-sized city located at the crossroads of international transportation routes.
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