Project Week: "Stimulating Employment should Be Priority in Apeldoorn"
As part of the first Project Week assignment for bachelor's degree students in the new academic year, Wittenborg CEO Maggie Feng spoke to the managing director of one of the biggest employers in the Apeldoorn region, Centraal Beheer, about the importance of good cooperation between local government, business and educational institutions like Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences.
Jack Hommel is the managing director of Centraal Beheer, a division of Achmea, which in turn is the largest insurance company in the Netherlands with an annual turnover of €23 billion. In Apeldoorn, Achmea employs 5,000 people, so a good understanding with the local government is crucial, Hommel told Feng.
"Centraal Beheer has a big impact in Apeldoorn – thousands of people coming by car, using public transport; we are talking energy and the environment. Secondly, as a big company it is important to contribute to improving life here by supporting local businesses, developing the social environment and supporting activities, like sports development."
Asked about what direction Centraal Beheer would like the city of Apeldoorn to focus on in the coming years, Hommel did not hesitate to say: "Employment should be stimulated. The government must invest more to attract entrepreneurs to come and stay and develop their organisation. The city also benefits when it creates a good environment for entrepreneurs. That is the most important thing for me. Also, don't forget, Apeldoorn is a 'royal city'. It hosts the summer palace of the royal family, has lots of leisure facilities and a beautiful natural environment. Living in Apeldoorn is great."
Hommel also believes the city should strengthen its relationships with institutions of higher education. "Not just Wittenborg, but also the other institutions. If you look at other cities like Eindhoven, it has a strong connection with big companies like Philips, the Eindhoven University of Technology and SMEs. In Apeldoorn the power of the city, education institutions and companies like Achmea can be combined with SMEs."
Hommel also had praise for the Apeldoorn Business Awards, of which Feng is a judge, saying it is an excellent example of good cooperation between the different stakeholders in the city.
by James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press