Bring Out the Stars Tampere ups the ante with downtown renaissance, high-rise construction and green-edge solutions – and develops into a world-class Innovative City In recent years, Tampere has clearly been among the winners when it comes to attracting people, companies and investments. Businesses – both big and small – flock here because of Tampere’s great location, traffic connections and versatile commercial services. J yrki Laiho, Director of Urban and Economic Development for the City of Tampere, knows that Tampere has a secret weapon – or two, actually: “The two local universities have made sure that we have sufficient brain power for companies establishing operations here.” But what separates Tampere from other academic cities is the attitude towards students: Laiho points out that student housing has been concentrated in the downtown area for years now, allowing for true integration into the community. “The students that get to know the city are more likely to stay here, too,” he says. Eye on Growth This type of attention to detail is customary in the City’s strategies. Tampere has been 58 Nordicum working hard to make the city a better place for businesses – and that work is starting to bear fruit. The recipe for success, according to Laiho, is simple enough: never mind where the people come from, just figure out where the jobs come from. “As long as there are jobs available, everything else will work itself out,” he describes the philosophy. That’s not the only thing, however: Tampere is of the opinion that if a city wants to thrive in the global competition, it must work on its IQ. In fact, Tampere is in charge of the national Innovative Cities initiative and looking to use its varied expertise to improve the lives of its citizens more and more. “The Innovative City concept calls for smart governance, open data and smart citizens – and we’re working on all of these,” Laiho says. The central idea of the “Tampere Model” is to establish smart infrastructure that is sturdy enough to enable digital services and administration, for instance. Movers & Shakers Smart solutions are needed, as the population of Tampere is continuing to grow briskly: every year, the population increases by about 2,000 residents. The population of the city is nearing 220,000, and the whole urban region has a total of 360,000 residents. Laiho quotes classic city planning studies in stating that the optimum size for a city is right along those lines: 200,000 people. “We have a city here that is not too big or too small. We have all the services available without the problems that come with a big metropolis,” Laiho says. One of the challenges, then, is managing the intense growth that is likely to come in the next two decades. During the next 20 years, there will be 90,000 new residents in Tampere Region – and, proportionally speaking, the increase is bigger than that predicted for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.