Some years ago, I was asked a simple, innocuous question: Why are companies not queuing up to move to Aalborg? Those who know me would probably say that I am usually not particularly hesitant or reluctant to shoot from the hip. However, I could not come up with an answer immediately.
My first impulse was to respond that Aalborg as a municipality considered the broader perspective and had the prerequisites to grow, so it would come in due course. My answer could have been that simple. The problem is that the reality is rarely so simple. Aalborg is growing on virtually all significant parameters, yet growth in the industrial sector is lagging behind. This issue has forced me to reconsider my own understanding of Aalborg.
The population in Aalborg Municipality is increasing by several thousand each year. People come to the city because Aalborg is a place where you can begin your education on one of the excellent higher education programs, enjoy the norms of adult life with children, house, dog etc. and spend their twilight years in a city that exudes culture and metropolitan atmosphere.
We are expanding infrastructure to accommodate even more people in Aalborg with new urban development projects like Stigsborg Havnefront, which will become a fjord-side green residential area for 7-8,000 citizens over the next 10-20 years. Or the area at the old distillery, where culture and housing shall go hand in hand, again illustrating the continuation of our cultural heritage as a working-class city in a modern and charming style.
However, while the overall development is progressing well, what obstacles are preventing business development from following suit?
As I see it, the rapid development is a double-edged sword. Both a success story and an issue that needs to be addressed. There is a distinct gap between the population growth and job growth, leading Aalborg Municipality to target the creation of at least 20,000 decent jobs in the municipality by 2040. We educate many young people through long and medium-term education programs. Young people with tremendous potential, who will rent apartments, buy houses, raise children, engage in culture, etc., but who also leave if they cannot attain meaningful employment in the city. And then the party stops.
We already have fantastic companies in Aalborg, with many of them working on the high-tech solutions of the future within digitization, sustainability and green transition. However, organic job growth through new start-ups and well-established companies will not solve the issue and bridge the gap of 20,000 jobs.
We shall find the answer in the attraction of more high-tech companies. Aalborg presides over a wide range of prestigious educational institutions, including Aalborg University, which is described as one of the best engineering universities in the world. This is interesting for manufacturing companies with a need for highly skilled labour. Moreover, we in Denmark and especially North Jutland lead the way in green transition and the testing of new technologies that can solve the global CO2 challenges, which is interesting for companies with test and development facilities that wish to be at the heart of where development is happening.
But why are companies from abroad not coming in droves? First and foremost because they are unaware that we would like them to come. Therefore, we must put Aalborg in the spotlight on the international stage for companies that wish to establish themselves somewhere in the world with the merits we can offer in Aalborg.
Everyone associated with the business community accepts the challenge: Aalborg Municipality’s business services department, Business Aalborg, has been established for the task together with Invest in Aalborg, and their budgets are in place. So, the rest is down to courage, will and collaboration across the city coupled with hard work and strong marketing. When we succeed in our mission, we will lift the whole municipality, unleashing its full potential and achieving balanced growth.
So, what can we do as citizens of the city? If you know or have contact with a relevant company, contact Invest in Aalborg – or tell your contacts at home and abroad about the excellence of Aalborg and get the companies to contact Invest in Aalborg themselves.
Thank you for your help!