Revitalization of a small Russian town

Revitalization of a small Russian town

This is the story of a small town in Nikel in the Murmansk region of the Russian Arctic.

“History is one of the few examples where a new vector has been chosen for the development or renewal of the area. The conditions and context in the Petsamo area, which includes the city of Nickel, are also special and important: four historically well-established and promising local tourism clusters. The directions for the development of tourism in this border area were already defined in 2015. Thus, after the closure of the Nornickel smelter, the basis for development already existed and work with the city of Nickel did not have to start from scratch. However, since the company was already closed, the city of Nickel could not wait long for a fresh start, he says Anna PopovaDirector of the Project Office of the Murmansk Arctic State University and former Director of the Tourism Development Department of the Ministry of Industry and Entrepreneurship of the Murmansk Region.

We use Nickel as an example to see how caring for the environment can be combined with economic development in northern Russia.

Vladimir PotaninThe director of Nornikkel, Russia’s largest producer of nickel, copper and other metals, first announced that environmentally harmful production will close in 2016. At an investor meeting in London in mid-November, he announced he would shut down hazardous operations in the city of Nickel as a final decision.

The industrial workshops in the city of Nickel have been in operation since 1946. The company could not be modernized because it was originally designed and built for equipment that is now considered obsolete. After the cessation of production, emissions from the nickel area were reduced 7-fold. The regions of Norway and Finland, only 300 km away, greatly appreciated this development. Environmentalists noticed a positive trend in improving not only air quality but also water and land surface quality.

The region’s economic transformation program is being implemented in conjunction with the Murmansk Regional Government. Earlier, Nornickel signed an agreement with the municipalities to invest about $ 2 billion in regional development. Regional authorities are involved in helping Nickel residents who want to relocate to other parts of the country or elsewhere in Murmansk to resettle in their new homes. Those who choose to stay in the city can count on all the support. “We are identifying and analyzing the development of the city of Nickel, which has great potential for the development of both industry and tourism. These are fully feasible concepts and there are plenty of ideas for grants,” the governor of the Murmansk region said. Andrei Chibis. “I went to the village myself and saw an abundance of enterprising and creative people, and great projects were carried out with financial support.”

Nornickel plans to set up a special organization in the city with a broad financial base to support local businesses with grants and interest-free loans. The field of activity of new small and medium-sized enterprises may be related to tourism, the service economy and the creation of abrasives from the slags of closed metallurgical production.

Six years ago, experts noted that the Petsamo area has good potential to develop active nature tourism, ecological tourism, military-patriotic and historical-cultural tourism, religious pilgrimage and event tourism, and “lifestyle tourism” (tourism-related). daily services: visits to beauty salons, shops, etc.). This forecast has been made taking into account the proximity of the area to the Norwegian border and the Sredny and Rybachy Peninsula, where the Pasvik Nature Park is located.

The proximity of the “Pasvik” (Øvre Pasvik Nasjonalpark) nature park is also an important factor in the development of the area. This unique area is located in the Pasvik Valley, which originates from Lake Inari, and runs in its middle course between Russia and Norway, separating the two states on the fairway.

Here, 30 years ago, nature reserves of two neighboring countries under the common name “Pasvik” were established along the border. In 2011. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation purchased an empty 840 m2 building in the city of Nickel as a visitor center for the park. The development and construction of part of the project was funded by Nornickel.

“The Pasvik Nature Reserve is the pearl of the region. It is a unique example of tripartite cross-border cooperation,” said Anastasia Ruzaeva, Assistant to the Consulate General of Russia in Kirkenes. “We believe that the creation of such a visitor center will make a huge contribution to the development of cross-border cooperation and tourism.”

Stakeholders, Russian regional authorities, the business community and residents believe that this experience of developing a new economic model in Russia’s Petsamo region could be used to address similar problems in other Russian single-city cities.


Source: The Nordic Page




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