For a long time, Sweden's northernmost region Norrbotten or Swedish Lapland as its known internationally, has been considered a problem area with depopulation, brain drain and lethargic structures. A place where no women or highly educated people want to live. Now Norbotten is flourishing and the region has a growth rate that is among the highest in the country: the former outsider is starting to look like a winner.
We had a talk with Peter Majanen, CEO of Quattroporte, trying to analyse how values and trends are changing, shaping a new future Norrbotten. Norrbotten is undergoing a transformation.
As a Norrbotten expatriot, what differences do you see if you compare the region today and twenty years ago?
"20 years ago Norrbotten was a traditional, masculine place with strong macho values, relatively unique in Sweden. Now we see a whole new generation emerging in the region: future-oriented individuals who represent very different values with a focus on issues such as sustainability and equality. "
What do you think is the reason for the change?
"There is no easy answer. Right now, I analyze large amounts of data from surveys in the region. I hope to revisit the issue. One can imagine that the internet and social media has a big impact. We are more global and exposed to outside influences. One can see that the change began in Västerbotten first, before change came to Norrbotten. This region has its very own kind of change, similar to what we see in Finland. Simplified it can be described as Västerbotten acting more collectively, while Norrbotten is gazing out into the world and sees context that we act on. Nothing is better than the other, it's just a different way. "
The underdog perspective, what does it matter, and how can it be used in av positive way now that Norrbotten is booming and has one of the highest growth rates in Sweden?"In Norrbotten you keep up the hard work, you get nothing for free and take nothing for granted. There used to be nothing but negative talk about this region and there was no improvement in terms of growth. Now everything is changed in Norrbotten. The underdog perspective helps and creates strong incentives and a highly innovative, future-oriented climate."
How can Norrbotten benefit from a changed perception of the region?
"Big, spectacular restructuring attracts attention. Norrbotten have to risk a little more in terms of, for example, the development of cities, lifestyle and business establishments. The challenge is to retain and attract talent who want to be involved in the development of the future Norrbotten. The region is at a crossroads and must make the right strategic decisions to control and direct the positive trend in the desired direction. It is now or never!"
The future Norrbotten – what can we expect?
"I will talk about what it is that makes Norrbotten special, I will compare the region to other places in the world and I will point to some important strategic choices for the future. In my TED talk, I will describe how I think the future Norrbotten looks."