Dieter Egger, Mayor of Hohenems: The digitalization of our city has become one of our major topics
“Our challenge is to do everything a little “more inspiring” then other cities”
- September 13, 2018 12:30, 3032 impressions
- Monika Dimitrova
Dieter Egger was born on January 13th 1969 in Hohenems, Vorarlberg. He has diploma from German secondary school BORG Dornbirn Schoren and studied economics in Schloss Hofen Lochau. Egger was textile entrepreneur until 2003, since 1999 member of the parliament of the province Vorarlberger; from 2003- 2009 member of the government of the province Vorarlberg 2003 – 2004 vice governor of the province Vorarlberg 2004 – 2016 head of FPÖ Vorarlberg. Since 2015, Dieter Egger is Mayor of Hohenems.
How would you describe your city briefly? What do you want our audience to know about Hohenems?
Hohenems is located in the heart of the country of Vorarlberg – the most western province of Austria, close to the Swiss border. The city and its surroundings have a big variety of different breathtaking landscapes: Mountains for hiking or climbing, rivers and lakes for swimming, plains for cycling – and the only airport in Vorarlberg. Much more important - the city is home to a rich history, having roots in Christian and Jewish communities that lived here peacefully side by side for hundreds of years and formed the outer appearance of the city. This precious heritage is something we particularly take care of and has big influence regarding to our future development and planning. In the last years, renovating the outdated historic downtown was our number one project.
You modernize residential areas with a good combination of functionality and architectural quality, as well as energy-saving and ecological construction. Where do you find funding from?
Fortunately the governments of Vorarlberg and Austria invest a lot in sustainable construction and set high ecological standards. Besides those fundings our renovations must be funded with tax incomes – what requires clever long term financial planning.
Share others good practices from your municipality.
One of the most critical points was to revive the local shop structures. Our strategy: Concentrating on small, owner-driven shops and craftsmen and keeping big retailers out of town. This was managed by smart seed-investment in those entrepreneurs and businesses – and fortunately we had some investors and financing partners in the city that shared this vision and supported our efforts. This way we will become on USP, based on the history of our town.
And what are your biggest challenges?
We started a marketing and branding process in 2017 because we wanted to point out what our city is capable of. The claim that came out of this demanding process was “inspiration” – because we noticed that a remarkable number of pioneers and artists have their roots in Hohenems and profited from the special mindset in the community: The first bank of Vorarlberg, the first book printer, even the first real café – was all founded in Hohenems. Our challenge is now to underline “inspiration” in all public aspects and do everything a little “more inspiring” then other cities – and that is a big challenge.
Do you think that a problem with accessing and gaining information exists among European citizens when trying to update their information about European policy implementation?
The efforts of the EU in making information for our community level more transparent and available can be felt – and the situation has generally become better. In the everyday business of running a town – with all detail problems – looking for that information is not always the first thing you do, and a lot of those information are not really useful for us too – because they don’t solve our actual day-to-day problems we have to deal with.
What do you think about a unified platform for European municipalities and its main goal to make and keep European citizens better informed about what is taking place in the European Union? How the portal can be useful to a small city like Hohenems?
The general idea is a good one. But the platform alone would not solve the problem- there must be manpower inside the communities to use the portal actively and positively – and manpower on the portal itself so it stays alive and relevant. This general investment should not be underestimated. To launch a platform and hope that the communities will use it only because it is there – might be optimistic.
What will be the main goals and good examples you plan to develop for the near future?
Besides the upcoming renovation-projects, the digitalization of our city has become one of our major topics. Not only as far as a better service for our citizens is concerned – but also in not losing touch with our young community members and of course the general technological development: digital tourism…internet of things…big data…if we fail to keep up with these challenges, we fail in serving our citizens and loose future growth potential.