BOCHUM, Germany – Earlier this year, Nokia announced it would be closing its factory in Bochum. Understandably, employees and townsfolk were upset, emotional videos were made, there was a lot of discussion and much was written. It was an awkward time for the company.
As I understand it, the decision to close the factory was based on a business model that took into account the value of the factory within the whole Nokia product creation and distribution network. I have seen similar situation here in Finland and know that these decisions are not made lightly. Nokia has since been working with the local government and labor representatives to make the best out of a difficult situation (a brief history can be found on the Nokia Press Bulletin Board).
I suppose I am trying to find the positive news as this whole thing plays out. And what set me off today was a recent announcement regarding an investor in the ‘Growth for Bochum’ program.
The Growth for Bochum program was set up by Nokia and the regional government as a campaign to create new jobs and investments in the Bochum area. It is funded in part by Nokia, but will include other investors as well.
Scanbull Vertical Images AG is the first investor in the program. Scanbull produces 3D scanning systems, 360° scanning systems and software solutions. Through the program it will tap into the highly-skilled technical workers in the area and open a production site in Bochum for its new 3D scanning product range. It will occupy some of the former Nokia factory and also prioritize employment of suitable ex-Nokia employees.
I find this to be good news. Now that the ice is broken, hopefully other hi-tech companies will recognize the right mixture of technical facilities and highly-skilled technical workers in Bochum. Also, I hope that, as with Scanbull, the companies bring in new, cutting-edge technologies rather than older more established industries (might we count consumer electronics in that?). This will not only revitalize the region, but carry it into the highly competitive future.
Image of the Kemnader See near Bochum, from threedots