Small town should differentiate their approach to addressing problems, said Ms. Nadezhda Kosareva, President of the Institute for Urban Economics, to the Parlamentskaya Gazeta.
The goal of the government’s policy with respect to all small and medium towns and rural settlements should be to preserve them by creating competitive economic entities. Valentina Matvienko, Chairperson of the Federation Council, wrote an article on this topic for the Parlamentskaya Gazeta. According to Ms. Matvienko, emphasis should be placed on developing transportation, energy, and social infrastructure.
“As far as I can see, the need for this emphasis is driven by the fact that our metropolitan areas and large cities are currently enjoying advantages in development. They offer the basic conditions for economic activity and higher standards of living. People are moving there from rural areas and small towns. The Spatial Development Strategy approved by the government does not really prioritize large, small, and medium cities and towns,” Ms. Kosareva said.
A complex issue has been raised for which there is no straightforward solution for all small towns, and the approach to selecting the tools to address the problem should be highly differentiated, the expert believes. According to her, small towns can be divided into three groups.
“The first is towns located within major metropolitan areas. Here, indeed, closer agglomeration will benefit everyone. The second group consists of towns that are isolated but have the potential for economic development. They are the ones who really need the support measures mentioned by Ms. Matvienko. The small towns in the third group, unfortunately, are in a situation where you could pour loads of cash into social infrastructure and what not, but there are no jobs there now and no future prospects,” Ms. Kosareva continued.
She went on to explain that, during the Soviet era, this type of settlements used to be regarded as unpromising, and there is absolutely no chance of attracting businesses there in a market economy.
“Today, we can no longer order a factory to be built there. It will only appear where the necessary economic conditions are present. This group requires much closer attention. Sometimes, possibly, conditions should be created for people to move away from there and budget money should be allocated for that,” the economist believes.
She added that the contraction of towns was nothing to be afraid of. “People are leaving those towns, but if we create certain conditions for economic development there, as modest as they might be, the town would be able to maintain a certain stable population,” Ms. Kosareva concluded.
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, 12 November
Author: Nadezhda Borisovna Kosareva
Structural section: Municipal economic development
Subject: Strategies and programs for urban development