Beauty and Brains

The economy of Maastricht is performing well. Job numbers are rising and unemployment is at a historical low. The city is rapidly becoming increasingly international, new investors are knocking at our city gates and, headed by the Brightlands campuses, the knowledge economy is taking flight. 

Over the past few years, growth in Maastricht and the surrounding region has outstripped the average for Dutch businesses. Everything is in place for the next growth spurt. 

If we succeed in further strengthening our innovative economy, our international position and our inspiring living and working environment, South Limburg has the potential to become one of the most attractive regions in Europe in which to live and work. Bucolic and Brightlands, Beauty and Brains: our region has it all. 

Nonetheless, our region still faces one major challenge: the labour market. The shortage of manpower is already slowing down our economy and expectations suggest that across the whole of Limburg, thousands of new jobs will be created in 2019. 

We can only tackle this challenge if we in government, education and business work together. All for one and one for all. None can stand alone.

For local government, this means viewing South Limburg as a single economy! We must put an end to the us-and-them thinking of Heuvelland and city centres, Parkstad and Maastricht, the Westelijke Mijnstreek and the rest. 

Together also means together with the Euroregion. Every single study shows that the future of our city lies in the Euroregion and in Europe. That in turn demands a maximum effort to break down barriers for studying and working across the border, combined with a single Euroregional agenda for the labour market.

The third B stands for Businesses and the jobs they bring. Therein lies a challenge for us all. Failure on that front would be inacceptable. How awful would it be for us to have the Beauty, the Brains and the Businesses, but not the people to fill the job vacancies? Now that our economy is performing well, we must avoid resting on our laurels. Job vacancies will not fill themselves; we in government must leave no stone unturned. Let us join forces to show what South Limburg has and what South Limburg can do. To make that possible in 2019 we must add a fourth B: Bravura! 

Vivianne Heijnen – Municipal Executive member of Economic Affairs, Municipality of Maastricht