Area Manager Kanaalkant – Antwerp

Bridging the gap between policy and the operational side of the companies by encouraging the right organisations to start projects

What’s happening? How does it happen?

The area manager is positioned on the bottleneck between the vision for the area, the ´Kaderplan´ from 2014, and the companies inside this area. His task is to be a first contact and bridge the gap between policy and the operational side of the companies. On the border between government and companies, he encourages the right organisations to start projects. Some of his core tasks are: relieving the burden on companies via an information desk; helping to find realisable projects to make companies more sustainable; assisting in the search for location, energy sub-projects, increasing waterborne freight transport, joint purchasing…

Next step is to give room to the companies by supporting existing business dynamics, perpetuating them and making future-oriented activities possible.

Why is this an interesting circular initiative for ports?

In order to become more circular, a good understanding of what is there is crucial to establish new synergies and symbiosis. Trust, sharing information, and talking the same language (business-case check-ups) can help in detecting willing actors, defining next steps and managing projects towards more symbiosis between housing and production and more water-bound activities.

What is the relation with the port and water?

The Albert Canal is an important channel, however not many companies make use of its possibilities. One of the ambitions and mission of the area manager is to increase the waterborne freight transport. Herein, there were already some possible projects tested together with a transport-expert to increase the use of the waterways.

What is the relation with the city?

Housing is situated close to the industry here. A conceptstudy in 2016 explored the possible exchanges between these two functions, mostly focussing on heat exchange or closing of material cycles. Also, in certain area’s, they are looking for economical programming in relation to the neighbourhood; this in the form of fablabs in relation to existing technical schools or learning trajectories.

What are the ambitions?

Upgrading of the second largest business park in the province of Antwerp (400ha), located on the Albert Canal. In this process it became clear that economic and area-oriented development must go hand in hand. The plan area is further characterized by a large number of historically outdated industrial buildings, a strong interweaving with the urban area, problematic mobility and a large fragmentation. An area manager was appointed in this context. By means of projects to make the business park more sustainable, stimulate entrepreneurship and improve access to the site (e.g. transport via water, bridging the gap between industry and housing).

Who is behind it?

The province works together with the provincial development company POM, the city of Antwerp, the districts of Deurne and Merksem, the municipalities of Schoten and Wijnegem, the Flemish government and nv De Scheepvaart, the manager of the Albert channel. The area manager takes care of the startup, acceleration and follow-up of the (re)development of a large site or a cluster of sites. This is done from the public side on the dividing line with the private sector. As soon as possible, cooperation with the private sector takes place at various levels (directing, facilitating, structuring, financing, acquiring). This cooperation is necessary depending on the project and not with a view to commercialisation by the area manager.

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