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Besançon

Located in Eastern France, close to the Swiss border, Besançon is a city of 130,000 inhabitants. The city dates back to the Roman period and has always maintained an important administrative, legal and military role. During the "Trente Glorieuses" (1945-1975), Besançon underwent important economic and demographic growth. It became the French capital of watch-making. To provide housing and public infrastructure for newcomers to the city, without destroying the historical centre, a large residential area called Planoise was built in the south-western part of the town. Planoise can be likened to a "new town" with around 20,000 residents and a wide range of public, leisure and business facilities (hospital, cultural centre, shopping centre, etc.) Currently, demographic growth has slowed down even if 1,000 new people arrive in Besançon every year. The local economy is dominated by public and private sector businesses. In 2008, 37% of employement was in the private sector while 32% was in the public sector. Manufacturing jobs have declined with the departure of the some of the watch-making industry. In 2008, manufacturing accounted for 32% of employment. However,  an important knowledge-based industry, particularly in high precision engineering,was retained. There is still a wide range of local firms working in sectors such as health, car manufacturing and new technologies. ESIMeC main contact: Website:

The city of Besançon faces four main challenges:

- evolution of the public sector: within the national context of job reduction, the retention of the local public sector is not guaranteed. What will the impact be for Besançon? What strategy must be implemented to mediate the reduction in public sector employment?

- large capital projects are planned for the next five years: new high-speed railway line, new cultural quarter and first tramway line. How will these investments be valorised to achieve economic diversification and increase the level of skills of the local workforce?

- diversification of the local economy: which sectors should be focused on? How will they be developed? What will the role of the public and private sectors be? How to build an alternative economic model to the models used in large metropolitan areas?

- public-private governance in economic development: the responsibility for economic development has been at intermunicipal level since 2004. The Communauté d'Agglomération du Grand Besançon is the political institution that has the overall responsibility of intermunicipal affairs (59 municipalities with a population of 175,000). The Grand Besançon is developing its economic strategy and aims to organise public-private governance as a key part of its implementation.

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