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Published 12 Nov, 2018

Prosperity and Growth Strategy Karlstad Region

Värmland's share of the Swedish population is declining since 1860, when it peaked. Over the past 40 years, Karlstad´s share is unchanged. The increase in figures depends to more than 50% of influx from the other 15 municipalities in Värmland. Almost 50% are retired.

When it comes to regional GDP, Värmland was number 13 of 24 counties in 1860. Today, the position is 22. Nordregio's Regional Potential Index expresses the economic prospects of regions. Värmland is ranked 58 of 74 Nordic regions. In Sweden, only Gävleborg region has a lower position.

In global terms, regarding the effects of the digital revolution on future employment, we can expect a decline in manufacturing, retail trade and transport on roads. At the same time, we see a very strong increase of the employment in the information technology sector and other high-tech industries.

This potential must be used by the city of Karlstad and the region of Värmland. The growth must take place in high-tech and highly-paid companies, which in turn generate employment in other sectors, especially in personal service industries. Our region also has good opportunities to grow in tourism, culture and food, and do this in symbiosis with information technology.

In this context, the strong growth in our region depends on the availability and quality of railway transport services. To reverse the negative development trends in Värmland, first, a high speed railway between Oslo and Stockholm, two of the fastest growing regions in Europe, is needed. Such a railway will create a labor market from Oslo to Stockholm and will help Karlstad improve its comparative competitiveness in relation to other cities of a similar size in e.g. in eastern and southern Sweden.

Second, Karlstad and Värmland must do their homework. Without a successful homework there are limited effects of the railway.

Focusing strategic measures on human and social capital and to lesser extent capitalising on natural resources is essential if the region shall have a population increase. Sustainability is central, economic and social in the regional perspective, and the everyday life of the local citizens and focusing on global impacts and world citizens when it comes to climate. Asylum immigrants' involvement in our society is critical for social sustainability. National and regional political leadership has for decades obstructed the involvement of asylum immigrants, resulting in an outcome that is dangerous to our society. In order to succeed, one must acquire insight into the diverse cultural and religious conditions, draw lessons from this insight and start there with firm action.

The success also depends on the assumption that Karlstad University increasingly focuses on what Värmland needs in the digital future, as well deepens its cooperation with the political system and entrepreneurs. The university must also grow and thus contribute to increased employment, which in turn generates additional jobs.

In the strategy, we present measures that make difference for both the city and the surrounding region. It is a program in the digital economy in collaboration with global platforms and networks. It is also a program based on system thinking, which means actions are each other's prerequisite, are interacting and reinforcing each other.

If successfully implemented, the measures will lead to an increase in:

  • The attractivity of Karlstad with focus on young generations and high-tech businesses
  • The number of employees in the information technology and other high-tech businesses
  • The research and education in information technology including artificial intelligence at Karlstad University
  • The involvement of asylum immigrants in the society

Download the full TENTacle report here.

For more information please contact:

Leif Lendrup
Transnorden Sweden