Study on Empowering the Northern Netherlands

How is the Northern Netherlands to earn its living in the long term?  In the Empowering the Northern Netherlands Study, De Zwarte Hond explored how the competitive strength of the Northern Netherlands and its sub-regions can be structurally reinforced.

The study identified three main challenges: reinforcing the economic structure, strengthening the environmental qualities and improving connections.

A design-based study was initiated to sketch various conceivable solutions and to offset them against the three main challenges. An exploration of “what might we want?”.
Vision 1: The Outsider
The Northern Netherlands has the remarkable quality that it is a “relaxed” region and yet close to the urban bustle of the Dutch Randstad, the Ruhr area, and Flanders. With its imposing, diverse landscapes it is a unique area for the Netherlands. For example, the Wadden intertidal zone, the Drentse AA region, but also the extensive meadows. Make the most of these strong assets and mobilise the quality of life as a magnet and binder for talent. Create super-specialised study programmes and transform the region into the place to excel ? a Dutch equivalent to Oxford or Cambridge.

Vision 2: City & Surrounding Countryside
In Groningen everything centres on knowledge, direction, management, (top) culture and (top) facilities. The surrounding countryside offers something that the city lacks: peace and quiet, space, and small scale. Focus on the division of the city and the surrounding countryside to strengthen the agglomerative force. Stronger concentration in the city surrounded by specialised, complementary sub-regions.

Vision 3: Noordned
The region consists of a number of well-connected economic centres. Economic innovation is achieved by improving cohesion and stimulating cross-fertilisation among regional sectors. 

Vision 4: The Mosaic
The Northern Netherlands comprises many large and small economies and population centres. These are both locally and globally orientated. Cherish this exceptional quality and create basic conditions that will help sustain it. In the final analysis, the Northern Netherlands consists of many relevant and complementary centres.

Each of the four perspectives has its own key assignments, but a number of “no regrets” aspects  have also been formulated: ensure widely-supported plans that no longer pose any dilemma so a start can be made straight away: provide a national fibre-optic cable network, cross-border public transport connections, and deploy culture as an incentive. The complete report and all recommendations can be downloaded here: link (Dutch)

De Zwarte Hond carried out this study at the request of the three Northern Provinces, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, and the municipalities of Assen, Emmen, Groningen and Leeuwarden.