The city of Sabadell is 20km due north from Barcelona in the region of Catalonia. With a population of just over 200,000 inhabitants, it is a former industrial powerhouse that made its name in wool and textiles. But, as in most of Spain, the city’s economy has changed in the past few years. Dominated by industrial production for more than a century, it has become a city in which the majority of its workforce is employed in the service sector. Industry still plays a role in the city’s economy but traditional manufacturing is in decline. Sabadell has high unemployment (17%) and has seen a huge rise in temporary contracts: 87% of all new employment contracts in January 2010 were temporary. The construction sector has been particularly badly affected by the downturn leaving many unskilled and qualified young people unemployed.
Textiles and metallurgy still have an important role in Sabadell’s economic fabric. But it is diversifying and aims to become a knowledge economy city for the 21st century. Its industrial structure is based on small and medium sized companies in sectors such as food processing, paper and graphic arts. The city has a strategic location close to Barcelona and surrounded by technological centres and universities.
Sabadell’s development is handled by the municipal organisation Vapor Llonch, named after the building it occupies. The city has a history of activism in the workers’ movement and the municipality aims to promote the town’s development in a framework of social justice. Its mission includes service quality, competitiveness, innovation and the sustainable use of public and private resources.