The global crisis and recession created a new situation for urban financing. Severe changes in economic and financial conditions extorted the revision of existing public policies. Under the worsening financial conditions, the traditional functioning of cities collapsed – writes MRI director Iván Tosics in the special issue of Urbanisme, focusing on the URBACT programme.
Client: European Investment Bank – City, transformed
Duration: June 2018 – February 2019
Located between three European capital cities, Győr has to work hard to attract investment and jobs. The Hungarian city has set itself up to attract innovative companies, creating new urban values such as education-based innovation, a high-quality urban environment and a lively cultural sphere. Here’s how a “secondary city” builds on its industrial past even as it breaks away from its dependence on it.
European Investment Bank (EIB) contracted MRI to elaborate a study on the development pathway of Győr in the last decades, and the role EIB played in it. The study pointed out that Győr is located in between three major cities (Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest), consequently it had limited potential to attract a mix of large companies and investors. Nonetheless, it had the potential to deploy smart specialisation – and it succeeded in doing so. Győr has been known for its highly qualified work force: before the regime change and economic restructuring, one of the largest state-owned companies (RÁBA machinery) was located here. After the transition, the decreased relevance of RÁBA was compensated by the newly settled Audi Hungaria plant, which has come to employ as much work force as RÁBA did in its heyday. In addition, this considerable manufacturing capacity attracted numerous smaller companies to join the value chain.
The operation of Audi Hungaria is one of the economic engines of the second-tier city. However, it also runs the risk of mono-functionality and high dependence on car industry trends. In order to diversify the local economic structure, a new cooperation is currently being established between the local university (Széchenyi István University), the municipality, and local economic actors. This already resulted in new developments, like the Higher Education and Industrial Cooperation Centre (FIEK in Hungarian).
Győr’s recent development has been strongly supported by European funds (similarly to all Hungarian cities), in which national co-financing was secured by EIB loans. The majority of these funds was absorbed by the private sector, although large scale public developments were also implemented, like the two-stage renovation of the inner city, and the social rehabilitation of Győr-Újváros. In addition, EIB provided loans to commercial banks for various purposes, among others for the renovation of privately owned residential buildings in ESCO schemes (the RaabSol project).
The study is available on EIB’s website in English, German, French, and Hungarian; and was also promoted on the EIB’s blog and social media.
Iván Tosics, managing director of Metropolitan Research Institute, has a long standing tradition of greeting the new year with a photo essay of issues he learned about in the old one. His photo essay for 2018 treats the issue of the “housing paradox”: how more financing seemingly curbs the affordability of housing across the globe – and no longer only in the so-called “hegde-cities”.