Mittweida (Saxony), Altenburger Land (Thuringia), Study Visit, 28 November - 2 December 2005

 

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An international review panel led by the OECD LEED Programme visited the districts of Mittweida (Saxony) and Altenburger Land (Thuringia) from 28 November 2005 to 2 December 2005. A regional workshop has been held in Leipzig, Germany on 20 March 2006 to discuss with local stakeholders and representatives of national ministries and representatives of the two East German Länder ministries preliminary findings and draft policy recommendations and to make case study presentations of international learning models/best practices.

In considering the potential for policy development in these districts it must firstly be recognised that entrepreneurship policies in Mittweida and Altenburger Land operate in a very challenging economic and social context. The districts are located in areas characterised by a declining population and fiscal base, high unemployment, low incomes and low local demand and an employee rather than an employer culture. It is difficult to achieve rapid and sustainable growth of the new and small firm sector in this context. The positive contribution of policy to entrepreneurship activity can still be very important, although it may initially be reflected in slowing of economic decline or creation of a few points of growth rather than a take-off of the local economies in question. It must also be recognised that there are many strengths in the local entrepreneurship environments of Mittweida and Altenburger Land. The districts have significant levels of entrepreneurship activity measured by business stocks and start rates. There is substantial, good quality entrepreneurship policy support available in each district from the Federal, Land and District levels that is well adapted to the needs of the districts. Furthermore, many of the initiatives in place can be considered as best practice within OECD member countries.

Both the discussion of strengths and weaknesses, and the recommendations are not meant to draw-up an exhaustive picture of the local scenario, leading to immediate and concrete policy actions. The aim is, rather, to stimulate and catalyse a process, whereby regions, cities and districts in East Germany can stand back and reflect on their overall options, needs and priorities, by facilitating an exchange of information on innovations and good practices from a range of OECD Member countries. The key messages resulting from the local case study area, in terms of suggested policy actions and initiatives, are summarised in an Action Plan.

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