HIGH LEVEL CONFERENCE ON THE URBAN CONSEQUENCES OF EUROPEAN DEMOGRAPHIC PROCESSES Budapest, 3 May 2011 Ocna Mures ROMANIA Topics - The (hi)story - Demographic trends, causes and consequences - Main policies - Potential - Main Strategic development direction - Assistance needed HIGH LEVEL CONFERENCE ON THE URBAN CONSEQUENCES OF EUROPEAN DEMOGRAPHIC PROCESSES Budapest, 3 May 2011 OCNA MURES CITY - THE (HI)STORY – the visitor The story There is a piece of land, placed in the central part of Romania, in the middle of Transylvania, a land known under the name of Ocna Mures, or Uioara (as ancient documents attest). Ocna Mures ROMANIA Razboieni railway station is an important cross road which connects Ocna Mures city to a bigger world. The story The salt mines stood as unrested witnesses of a tumultuous history … the mining started in ancient times, lasting from Roman Empire Age all the way to the contemporary one. But little by little, the salt mines have been flooded and most of the mining galleries crushed, the solid salt mining ending in 1978. The story The entrance into the city, guarded by Mures river. The story The first illuminated football arena in Romania … loosing shape due to lack of proper funding. The highschool building next to the footbal ground is perfect for a sport school, not only for football, but also for handball and volleyball.... For many years in the past we used to be called “the town of volleyball” as a lot of great players came from here. Could sport become alive again? Yes. Football, handball and volleyball practice reopened already. Over 200 kids gladly joined them. It requires a lot of work and passion (we have that)… and money to support (this is the challenge) The story The soda ash products plant Due to favolable natural resources, in 1896 a soda ash products plant was established (The Solvay Plant), opening here a new branch of industry: the chemistry, using the salt as main raw material. Over the course of one hundred years of existance, the plant represented the main economic pillar of the city, becoming the biggest soda ash producer in Romania and absorbing most of the city manpower (over 3000 workers). Its ownership went from Solvay to state (through the nationalisation of 1948). The revolutionary movements in 1989 marked the begining of the decline for the plant, getting in 2000 into bankruptcy door-step. In 2001 it was acquired at the stock exchange by a new owner (Bega Grup) who sold it in 2005 to an Indian company (GHCL). Currently, the plant is closed, leading to a wave of job cuts Many small handicrafts traditional in Ocna Mures, such as glass globes, shepherd, woodworking, but also agriculture kept involved an important part of the active population. Slowly, most of them have diminished or even disappeared by now. “Could these be invigorated?” Yes, with some financial and technological help. They would benefit from the tradition we have here and important skilled manpower. The story A few water surfaces which do not look like proper lakes. This is where the old downtown was in the past, but the land crashed over the old salt mines, being filled in later on with water to stop further erosion. This has the potential of a beautiful recreational lake, with boats and dockings, surrounded by trees and wooden coffee shops, combined with the usage of the salty water for medical treatment This is a great opportunity! The story Beautiful and imposing churches of various religions speak about cultural diversity and a true ethnic mosaic that lived here along the history. After centuries of continuous attraction of various migrating people, the economic down-time led to diminishing of ethnicities in number and size. The Teleky castle can also be considered a special touristic asset. Tradition in cultural activities: popular dans bands, choirs, poets, writters. Valuable touristic attraction points for this region full of history; great touristic assets, that give the city potential for the future. It can become famous!” The story Twice in one year we have been on the cover page of all the newspapers in Romania … in a bad way: big floods in June … then a land crach which swallowed the supermarket in December Now it is time to turn the page and go for a new beginning! DEMOGRAPHY Demographics CAGR of -0.4% registered over the last two decades ... a linear projection for 2020 leads to continuation of the declining trend. 49% Youth ... The main driver of the declining trend Natality-Mortality balance diminished until it became negative over the last 10 years CAGR -0.4% Industry shrinkage leads to M/F balance swift in the favor of Female Ethnic structure stable over the last 30 years, with 85% Romanian population Causes and consequences of demographic trends CAUSES: Industry closing Natality decrease UE work opportunity for youth (no borders) 20 years of demographic shrinkage registered & negative trend for the future projected • diminishing further of active occupied population • reducing of income per household CONSEQUENCES: • living dependency more and more on survival agriculture • further deteriorating life standard • determining youth to migrate towards other areas • modification of the age structure (aging) Main policies in tackling the demographic challenges • At the local level: – Defining the strategic direction for development – Offer facilities for investors to open businesses and offer new jobs , such as : • tax exemption on defined time frame depending on number of created jobs; • ensuring necessary utilities; • make available fields and buildings where investors may activate. – Regular meetings with business people from the city to identify their needs and requirements re. the local administration; – Inform the population on the newly created activities; convert the manpower towards new activities. • Colaborate with regional, national and European authorities to open doors towards new opportunities, via: – Encouraging balnear tourism and develop necessary infrastructure. – Development of a sport arena as a base for regional sport center, to become a point of attraction for youth – Strengthening the relationship of Ocna Mures with neighbour cities through involvement into common activities Main strategic direction Vision… Make Ocna Mures a better & more attractive place to live for its inhabitants. Objective… Development of the city towards reversing the negative demographic and economic trend. Main strategic direction... Bring back the balnear resort identity of Ocna Mures and redefine its flagship. Key strategic initiatives identified ... 1. Develop infrastructure for balnear tourism - roads, buldings, lake, water pipes, communication 2. Develop and diversify the economic activities - facilities for small industries, agriculture, tourism 3. Develop sport center for performance - infrastructure, education, equipment, activities 4. Prepare human resources & improve social services - education, health system, integration of gypsies, old population 5. Elaborate & implement environment strategy strategy development, regulation appliance, activities - OCNA MURES potential There is still a significant amount of resources and reasons to believe in a better future. A few examples of short and mid term initiatives, with the objective to invigorate the economic sector as the main pillar for recovery the situation and turn around the demographic trend: Area Some examples Reasons to believe Balnear tourism Clinic Salty baths and pools Recreational park around the lake Teleky castle exploitation Salty water presence Clean, unpolluted air Historical artifacts Industry UPSOM factory retechnologization Opening new facilities for small industries Reopening traditional handicrafts (glass globes, shepard, woodworking etc.) Skilled manpower Tradition Agriculture Farm animals Organic crops Fish No pollution => unpolluted soil Skilled manpower Favorable geographical position Global H&W (bio) trend Sport & Culture Establish a sport school/camp - football, handball, volleyball Available sport field and buildings Ex-sport people of high performance Football, handball and volleyball clubs opened Cultural activities: - traditional dans bands -choir Cultural home down-town Tradition in folkloric dans and choir Assistance needed • from Regional level – Invest in regional infrastructure affecting Ocna Mures (roads, bridges) – Directing more social and economic programs towards Ocna Mures – Establish a regional industrial park to prepared for attracting potential investors to Ocna Mures • from National level – Officially include Ocna Mures among the affected areas to open door for special facilities for investments – Intensive assistance for complex rehabilitation project and reinsertion in touristic chain, via activities such as designing, feasibility studies for infrastructure. – Agreement between the Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Tourism & Territorial Administration to transfer the ownership of the current flooded area towards the local authority • from UE level – Transfer knowhow and expertise from cities with similar experiences that suceeded – Renewal of the city through the transformation of the flooded centra area from a latent danger into a beautiful recreational lake, environmentally friendly and with multiple exploiting opportunities. THANK YOU for offering us this opportunity to talk about OCNA MURES CITY!