Urban and local infrastructures
The Measure supporting urban and local infrastructures received co-financing of 75% from the ERDF and 25% from national resources during the period 2001-2008.
All in all, 25 disadvantaged urban districts in Saxony, East Germany, received financial support for investments in infrastructure and for the implementation of new development strategies for urban regeneration.
The main idea was to improve the living conditions of the population in urban districts characterized by poor economic development and a variety of social problems due to unemployment, out-migration of the young population and an increasing proportion of elderly people. The investments were expected to create local economic growth by overcoming specific local barriers.
25 urban districts with more than 150,000 inhabitants were eventually supported, and had 66 modernised areas for a total of more than 138 hectares, with 47 hectares of new urban infrastructures. An important result was the support of local enterprises, and more than 140 firms profited from infrastructural investments and services for the enhancement of their economic activities. The investments created 758 additional jobs and sustained 1,708 already existent workplaces.
All activities were embedded in local development strategies, aimed at improving living conditions and stimulating economic activities in order to reduce out-migration and create employment for different groups, such as the elderly population.
The main challenges in the selected districts were the lack/obsoleteness of material infrastructures, deteriorated and unoccupied housing, sub-standard building structures and unused land within the urban areas or in the outskirts.
The activities implemented focused on various aspects of urban regeneration: supporting SMEs and start-ups (such as consultancy services or purchasing of computers and office materials), restructuring residential areas, and creating sport and leisure facilities for the young population, as well as educational and childcare facilities. Infrastructure investments included further support for local cultural centres, museums and tourism. Investment in local infrastructures – such as the improvement of streets or reconstruction of buildings and heritage-protected buildings, or the conservation and adjustment of recreational areas, were intended to enhance the improvement of human capital. The activities supported had a sharp focus on creative and clearly specified ideas for new overall local development and adjustment. Local stakeholders - like public entities, private institutes, chambers of commerce and associations – were closely involved during the implementation phase.
The success of the initiative can be measured by changes in migration flows and new private investments. New strategies for the employment of an older workforce, however, are even more important for long-term development, as they pave the way for future learning processes. Furthermore, the different activities were important for local development, by supporting the generation of new experience for a local administration still hindered by lack of experience with decentralised economic policies in the former GDR.
The significant effects include improvement of the living environment and through this attraction of new residents with better qualifications, as well as sustainable improvement of the image of the area as an attractive investment location. These adjustments are particularly important for Saxony, as they help to overcome the spatial concentration of economic activities and residential areas in a few central urban districts in Dresden and Leipzig, and to build the preconditions for positive spillovers to surrounding and suburban areas. For these disadvantaged areas, such activities form an alternative to planned infrastructure reductions due to an ageing society. The measure was selected as a mini case study for its importance for regional development and its representative character for the approach to ERDF implementation applied in Saxony.