Neo-industrialization models and industrial culture of small towns

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In the last 30 years the global supply chains and containerization transformed the world of production and stretched it across the globe. With the exodus of Process and Assembly (P&A) segment of industrial production from the developed countries, the “global north” not only lost the production capacity itself, but more importantly, the know-how in making that is a basis of industrial culture.

The neoliberal attitudes in industrial production were the main force behind slow but persistent abandonment of the automotive industry in Detroit, or closing down of the coal and iron industry in the Ruhr region in Germany. Contemporary urban renewal strategies of industrial areas rely on injection of tourism based on design, popular art, cultural and leisure activities, like the Emscher Landschaftspark in Ruhr region, Germany. However, tourism-based redevelopment is economically questionable in small industrial towns. For such areas we need to envision alternative agencies that industrial past and industrial production can offer. One of the most underrated aspects of industrial production is the know-how imbedded in the P&A segment of industrial process. We argue for the industrial production know-how as a relevant part of the new innovation economy of small towns and of the local culture. This paper will trace the capacity of industrial production for culture-making by referring to production-innovation models described in regional geography. Firstly the paper identifies the P&A know-how worth reshoring. Secondly, it describes two models of neo-industrialization in order to thirdly identify a new hybrid type of a regional model and its culture.

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