This is how we change the image of northern Sweden

How do we lure 100,000 new residents to plug the talent gap in northern Sweden?

Leif and Billy are funny, but they give a negative image of what it's like to live in the north.

Leif and Billy are funny, but they give a negative image of what it's like to live in the north.

Foto: Stina Stjernkvist /SVT

Engelska2024-04-05 15:00

Attracting 100,000 new residents to northern Sweden is an uphill battle. 

Let's face it, the government doesn't seem to be doing much to help. Central government only seems to help ailing businesses. 

To quote an article in the SvD newspaper from 2009: "The government is mobilizing to help employees at Saab. An additional investment of half a billion kronor will provide increased support for jobs and education in Trollhättan."

Sadly, government support for our region's burgeoning labor needs is absent. The mammoth investment in Northvolt Ett, the largest modern industrial establishment in northern Europe, exemplifies this missed opportunity.  This should be a national story. 

However, headlines such as, "Sweden's future lies in the north, why is the government doing nothing?" are nowhere to be found. 

Instead, the media focuses on comparisons to past industrial failures such as the Stålverk 80 farrago in the 1970s - see fact box below). 

This hardly inspires people to move north. And when northern Swedish accents do grace our screens, they're often stereotypes such as Leif and Billy – not exactly the ideal next-door neighbors most newcomers envision.

Lobbying for northern Sweden's future

So, what's the solution? Leveraging existing methods to influence media, politics, and public opinion – what we call lobbying. 

Don't dismiss it! 

Lobbying is a legal and established practice, used by unions and special interest groups like "Sweden's Independent Breweries" to advance their agendas. Why shouldn't northern Sweden join the game and tell its story?

The media needs accurate information about the region's growth, not fearmongering about how "Norrland is taking all our electricity." 

Politicians need constant reminders that a thriving north is crucial for Sweden's continued prosperity. And wouldn't a positive television series made in Norrland showcasing its vibrancy be a refreshing change from misery and dull-witted stereotypes?

The power of collaboration

Public sector efforts alone won't suffice. Businesses in northern Sweden, who benefit from a strong business environment, must take the lead – as financial resources often fuel lobbying efforts. Skellefteå Kraft and Vattenfall understood this when they created Node Pole, an initiative attracting energy-intensive industries. It's a shining example of successful collaboration.

A call to action

Therefore, I propose a dedicated organization focused on lobbying for northern Sweden's growth. This entity would transcend municipal borders, working tirelessly to create conditions that attract 100,000 new residents.

Northern Sweden needs a population boom! To achieve this, we must proactively shape our narrative and showcase the attractions of Norrland living. It's time to join the game played by other interest groups. 

We need a collective commitment – financial and strategic – to persistently tell the world about the fantastic life that awaits newcomers.

Åsa Svanberg, freelance leader writer

What was Stålverk 80?

Stålverk 80, or Steelworks 80, was a major industrial project planned in Luleå, Sweden, in the 1970s. 

It aimed to construct a large steel mill in the region, which was expected to create thousands of jobs and significantly boost the local economy. 

However, the project faced numerous challenges, including financial difficulties, technical problems, and environmental concerns. 

Ultimately, Stålverk 80 failed to materialize as envisioned, leading to significant disappointment and economic setbacks for the region.