The history of Idrija is one of innovation with technological advancements made in mining but also in medicine studying the effects of mercury poisoning. Idrija has managed to make a successful transition from a town entirely reliant on mining to a centre for automotive manufacturing which has at is core two major companies of global significance. A further transition from manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy is now anticipated.
Today Idrija has near full employment. Residents enjoy a good quality of life in a splendid natural environment with a full range of sports and cultural amenities and the big city of Ljubljana less than an hour away.
There is however an unease that things will change again and that the city should prepare for economic and environmental changes. The focus is also on demographics. There is a long-term decline of the population due to low birth rates and out-migration. There is a sharp increase in older and economically inactive people, while the proportion of younger people and families with children is declining.
Idrija was previously a partner city in the City Centre Doctor Project, an Action Planning Network in the URBACT Programme, where ten small cities were exploring initiatives to revitalise their city centres. Now it is a partner in a Transfer Network – Re-growCity Project, a network of cities that share good practices to tackle against long term decline in medium towns through civil participation and volunteering, transferring good practice from Lead Partner – Altena, Germany. This project will help Idrija to address and deal with challenges that can no longer be ignored.