Kuopio: on the way to the ‘good life’

Despite social and economic challenges, Kuopio, in Finland’s Northern Savonia region, has a vision: to become the ‘capital of good life’ and a regional growth centre within twenty years. The CEB is helping Kuopio on its way by part-financing municipal investments in line with the City Strategy 2030.

New Kuopio MuseumBy 2040 Kuopio, in eastern Finland, aims to be a centre of sustainable growth for 200,000 inhabitants and for one million people living in the surrounding area. However, natural population growth is negative in the city – as it is in the rest of Finland – so if it is to achieve its aim, Kuopio must attract significant migration from the rest of the country and abroad.

What other challenges must it overcome? Infrastructure and services need upgrading and expanding if Kuopio is to meet the higher standards of living of a growing city, and fulfil the needs of new residents.

How the CEB is supporting Kuopio

To support the City to overcome these challenges and implement its City Strategy 2030, in 2018 the CEB approved a Public Financing Facility (PFF) of €50 million.

This funding aims to improve quality of life for the inhabitants of Kuopio. By supporting the implementation of the City Strategy 2030, the PFF also contributes to reducing territorial disparities between the Northern Savonia region and the rest of Finland. Kuopio has the potential to generate jobs, and provide high quality living conditions and services, to attract people from other parts of Finland.

The PFF has proved to be such a success that a €50 million increase has been made to the existing loan. This was approved by the CEB’s Administrative Council on 19 March 2020.

Partnering for success

Kuopio’s 2030 vision is based on three strategic priorities: health, vitality and happiness. The investments co-financed by the CEB are contributing to the implementation of the ‘Growing Kuopio’ and the ‘Happy and Healthy Kuopio’ strategy pillars. The progress report prepared by the City indicates that the strategic targets are on track to be achieved.

Commenting on the CEB funding, Mayor of Kuopio, Mr Jarmo Pirhonen, says, “Through our partnership with the CEB, Kuopio receives competitive interest rates and long loan periods. Schools, day care centres, cultural destinations and public infrastructure have all been created or enhanced for the benefit of citizens.

“We want to emphasise partnership and the role of the city as an enabler. Cooperation between the City, and businesses and educational institutions has been a success: know-how and strong networks are attracting more citizens and companies to the area."


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CASE STUDY: Creating a hub of excellence

Savilahti areaThe Savilahti urban re-development project is the main investment under the ‘Growing Kuopio’ pillar, which aims to strengthen the city’s position as a centre for higher education and innovation, and create higher value-added jobs.

The project will create a new city district and a hub of national excellence, and will be a combination of mixed-use residential, education and commercial development. The new neighbourhood is expected to have 35,000 inhabitants by 2030, to create up to 7,000 jobs and attract up to 7,000 students.

The project includes a variety of investments aimed at improving quality of life, from the expansion of the Museum of Culture, to the creation of a new Savilahti Sports and Event Centre, and new youth centres and childcare facilities (the latter offering subsidised places for low-income families).

The Savilahti project is expected to attract up to €2 billion-worth of investment from the private and public sectors, including €50-60 million from the City itself, and is an excellent example of different sectors working together to create new opportunities for a region.

 

CASE STUDY: Giving children a great start

Kuikkalampi day care and youth center.The Saaristokaupunki district is a part of Kuopio that has experienced significant population growth in the last decade, including an increase in the number of young families. A new day care and youth centre has been built to provide important childcare facilities and activity resources for local families.  

The centre offers a stimulating environment that supports the growth and development of children of different ages. There are high quality indoor and outdoor play and activity spaces. The youth centre is also the only one in the district, which makes it an important resource for young teenagers in their free time.

The centre also has a sports and activities hall for use by local groups, and all local families can access the outdoor play area when the day care centre is closed.