Touraine Node Park
In the Communauté de Communes ‘Loches Développement’ (Community of Communes – an association of 20 elected municipalities), the decision was made to better organise local economic development through the grouping of economic activities in five areas of the territory.
The local situation of the Communauté de Communes is characterised by two main aspects:
- A possible risk of lagging behind because of a lack of real economic dynamism and only traditional activities which are not enough to support employment. In 1996, the unemployment rate was high: around 11% (9.3% only at the same date for the region). The expected evolution was rather pessimistic with developing activity in neighbouring cities which attracted population and new economic activities
- A real potential because of a geographic location combining proximity to significant economic centres (such as Tours) and a good standard of living.
This made it both possible and necessary to think about an economic approach to the territory of the Communauté de Communes. The strategy defined then was to create five economic areas, one of which is the rural commune of Tauxigny, with 1090 inhabitants in 1999, where an activity zone has been built, the Node Park. This activity zone concentrates on the purely economic aspects of hosting companies and develops top quality services for both the companies and the employees. ERDF funding has made it possible to extend the industrial activity zone; to create and expand a joint restaurant for all companies in the zone managed by an association grouping these companies; to develop a day nursery for the children of the people working in the companies of the zone (which facilitates the access of women to the labour market).
In parallel to these projects co-financed by the ERDF, the zone also hosts several other services which make it attractive, notably a mail sorting centre, a local supermarket, a petrol station, a car repair centre, etc.
These services make the whole project both innovative and successful: today, the Node Park activity zone of Tauxigny hosts 20 companies which represent over 850 employees of which more than half are women. This high level of activity also has a leverage effect on the wider zone with an estimated 1,500 jobs indirectly created thanks to the presence of the Node Park – a job creation rate twice as high as the rest of the Centre region.
This success is due to a combination of different complementary factors:
- A specific geographic situation in a rural area not too far away from two important urban centres of the region and easily accessible by road
- A high level of flexibility to adapt to the needs of every company willing to settle in the zone and strong local political support enabling reactivity
- A combination of services to the companies and to the employees making the zone attractive both for the structures and for people who work in them
- External support providing relevant advice both for the type of activity to be hosted in the activity zone and the way in which the zone is to be developed
All these factors, combined with the best use made of the ERDF funding, enabled this rural zone which was initially facing employment decline to become an economically very competitive area.