We met with Helena Renström, Marketing Manager at the Skellefteå municipality, the messaging architect of the city’s successful branding and goal awareness programme. We had a chance to get up close to the Northvolt site and met a number of international workers building the new giga factory that is one of the largest battery factories in the world. We also met with Cristina Ghimpu, founder of Expats and Friends, a Facebook group that counts over 1500 members and whose vision and mission is “Our goal is to create a vibrant business and social forum in the Skellefteå Kommun region to provide information, support and services to Professionals/Companies/Organisations/Associations who have recently moved and/or plan to move to Skellefteå. We help enable and facilitate internationals moving and settling into Skellefteå quickly, thereby making it a pleasant experience,” says Ghimpu of their mission.
Renström explained to us about the inspiring way the municipality executed its international strategy.
The strategy process started in 2014, when it was determined that a plan was needed for 2030, thinking about Skellefteå demographic growth and facing the lack of young people.
The municipality’s innovative idea was to involve everyone. 50% of the strategy would be "written" by the people and 50% from the professional sector. 50% from men and 50% from women. Every social group would be involved in the dialogue. If a group could not take part physically to the dialogue (families, for examples), the municipality would go to them and talk to them at the open schools days, in primary and secondary school, at SFI. A thousand people were involved, in different types of meetings. The political figures did not talk, but listened. In the villages around Skellefteå, the spokesperson was someone from the community, not a politician. The businesses were involved as well, by involving the people working in them. The municipality wanted to show to people that they listened, and that they did not take the businesses sides, but were in the middle of society. They wanted to get everyone involved and make sure everyone knew what was happening.
In 2015, the municipality started an investment plan to meet the goals set.
Here is the full strategy:
Internationellt arbete - Skellefteå kommun (skelleftea.se)
They also have an "immigration office", to help people who are new in town get settled and get to know their way around Skellefteå and its infrastructures. The municipality works with Expats and Friends, who organises yearly events and montlhy meet ups, and whose Facebook page gathers a network of international people and gives support to who needs it.