John Jorritsma: ‘Expats are the heartbeat of the city’

Mayor John Jorritsma, "Eindhoven is large and small all at once."

“Our economy was overheated,” said Mayor John Jorritsma. This is part 4 of an interview conducted by Eindhoven News at our recent 10th-anniversary celebrations. “Now it is just hot, but not overly so.”

“I frequently speak with the CEOs of the biggest six or eight companies, like ASML, Signify, and Philips. They all say 100% (economic growth) is the norm, and we were at 150%. Now we have a cut back to maybe, 125 or 120%. So, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy to say the economy will worsen.”

He added that in one of the Dutch financial newspapers, they reported that even the King said in his troonrede (annual speech), said, “We have to be prepared.” “We do need to prepare,” agrees Jorritsma. “It is our obligation. Because, in 2008, we were overcome. We were not prepared for the crisis. We also had a financial crisis in 2012. Since then, we have only been growing (economically).”

‘Would hate to lose internationals’

“So, we try to prepare but, for me, one thing is for sure. We have to be connected with our international community. If there were to be an economic downturn, I would not like it if the internationals were to leave my city and my country. Because after the crisis is over, where is the talent?”

“I have to invest in my talent – to keep them here, to be prepared for less successful periods. We have to take care of our internationals. They are the heartbeat of this economy,” Jorritsma says.

When asked if there are plans in place to support the international community, should the economic bubble burst, the Mayor answered, “Absolutely!” He did not elaborate on what these plans were. He did, however, point out, that the region is doing its utmost to prepare for this possible eventuality.

There is a combination which Mayor Jorritsma refers to as the Triple Helix. This name refers to the cooperation between knowledge institutions, the business community, and public partners, to foster economic and social development. “Organisations in this Triple Helix are working together to prepare us for the worst-case scenario.”

This is part 4 of the five-part interview series. Do not miss tomorrow’s final instalment.

By: Melinda Walraven

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