Research report points to the importance of sharp choices and a shared regional vision

10th March 2022

Economic growth and broad prosperity in the Haaglanden region are lagging behind those of other regions in the Netherlands. The regional economy is mainly hampered by weak connections. To give this a boost, local governments must cooperate more regionally and stronger connections are needed between the major clusters present. This is evident from research by RaboResearch. To also increase the broad prosperity of the population, a stronger link is needed between people and companies, so that more people participate in society. “Connection is key. Stronger connections improve both the economy and the broad prosperity of the inhabitants. This does require a sharp, region-wide vision of the importance of broad prosperity.”

The reason for the study is that both economic growth and general prosperity are lagging behind in the region. The Economic Board The Hague and RaboResearch have therefore organized discussion tables with stakeholders from the region. Harry Wientjens, chairman of the Economic Board and cooperative director of Rabobank: “We sat down with representatives from the regional business community, government and education, and also with students. The central question was how we can boost the regional economy and thus improve the broad prosperity in the region.” Otto Raspe of RaboResearch explains: “By broad prosperity we mean everything that people find valuable. So that is much more than just economic growth. Think of housing, health, job security, the environment and safety. It is about the general well-being of people.”

The research shows that the region can build on the companies and institutions that are already there. The opportunities lie in generating new economic activities around these sectors, such as in the field of digitization of healthcare, healthy food and cybersecurity. Ferry Huurman, co-operative director of Rabobank: “Haaglanden should therefore make a sharper choice for a profile that matches the strong pillars in the area and their possible crossovers: the economy and activities related to health and safety.”

Public-private cooperation
It is striking that participants, regardless of their background, point to the lack of mutual connection and the realization that opportunities are missed, says Raspe. “This concerns both connections between living and working and those between, for example, SMEs and large companies. We also see a need for more public-private partnerships on digitization, health and safety.”

The participants at the discussion tables always see solutions in a regional context. Raspe: “For example, organize regional events where start-ups and scale-ups can meet the big companies. And set up a regional partnership with all municipalities in Haaglanden.” The strength of a region is often underestimated, says Wientjens. “The focus quickly shifts to the local or, on the contrary, on a much larger scale. While you have to be right about the region, as is shown here again. There is a real sense of regional solidarity for living, working and studying. We must recognize and use them and that requires clear, region-wide choices. Only in this way can you be a flywheel for broad prosperity through new connections and cooperation.”

Demand-oriented training
The research report also provides concrete suggestions for establishing connections and cooperation. Huurman: “I think a good example is the move from the business community to a stronger connection with vocational training in MBO in order to train even more demand-oriented. That helps our region with many people with a secondary education for whom there is potentially a lot of work.”

The full report, Strong connections in the Haaglanden region – New economic dynamics for broad prosperity can be read here.