The best way to support the local economy is to motivate young people to remain
Interview with Ing. Tomáš Hradil, Mayor of Krnov in Czechia
- August 15, 2019 11:30
- Aseniya Dimitrova
Tomáš Hradil (born December 17, 1979, Krnov, Czech Republic) is a Czech manager and politician who has served as the Mayor of Krnov since November 2018. Beside his political career, he has been a manager and executive of successful companies, as well as head of FBC Orca Krnov, the local floorball club with 2 hundred members. Hradil is married with two children.
Ing. Hradil, how would you describe the town of Krnov: what could visitors discover here?
As we have many beautiful cities and sights in the Czech Republic, our town doesn’t belong between its hot spots. Expectations are not high and visitors are usually surprised. They admire our synagogue or the Cvilín hill with rich history, medieval castle ruins, a pilgrim church, part of national cultural heritage, and the Lichtenstein lookout tower – one of many towers in Krnov. We are the town of views. In an era of over tourism you will appreciate a friendly environment here. If you like architecture, you can take a tour around a famous villas or Leopold Bauer’s buildings. One of the most influential architects between 19. and 20. century was born, lived and worked here. Each year fans from all around the world attend KRRR, our unique festival of 70mm films.
The more active involvement of the public in the local affairs is a top priority of your governance. Can you tell us what measures are previewed in this direction and what has been implemented so far?
I am deeply convinced, that the public participation results to a significantly higher quality of all our outputs. It’s always easy to meet with people, but it shouldn’t be a goal. They want results. An involvement of citizens and implementing their needs, thoughts and ideas is a large package of microprocesses with a lot of coordination. We are experimenting, learning, trying different tools or timing and “tuning up” step by step. One of the most challenging tasks is to facilitate the dialogue between architects and citizens on improving public spaces.
Could you say a few words about the ambition to turn Krnov into a Smart city? Which spheres of governance will benefit from new intelligent technologies?
I would hardly find more overused term than “smart city”. There are a lot of articles about it, but only few of them are about solutions. And that’s how I think, not about smart city, but how can technologies help us govern the town better. Thousands of local people use our mobile application. We would like to use a mobile operator’s data for designing the public transport routes and urban planning. We are talking about implementing technologies into our waste management and starting of our town’s card project, that would support the local economy.
You have the ambitious goals to make Krnov more attractive to investors. How do you intend to achieve this and how would you motivate young people to remain here?
I think we are approaching the era of a small highly innovative companies, family businesses. These are the roots of the economy. I am not dreaming about one big investor that would create hundreds of jobs. The best way to support the local economy is to motivate young people to remain, or better to come back more experienced. But there are no easy solutions. We are talking with schools, preparing some projects of improving entrepreneurial spirit between young people, supporting them to open businesses. I also use media with a clear message: “Living in a town when you can ride a bike from one edge to another in 10 minutes is better than being stuck in traffic jam for 2 hours every day.” More and more young “brains” consider coming back from big cities. We have more and more people working from their home offices in Krnov for global companies. It has never been so easy.
The city is working on the Climate change adaptation strategy. Are the main directions clear so far?
The adaptation strategy was prepared and now we are working on a list of activities for the next two years. Our main goal is to increase the water retention in and outside the town and to stop the soil erosion. We launched our anti-plastic campaign, talking about green roofs… It is not about one miracle solution but tens of activities.
Are there any other good practices and initiatives from your municipality that you would like to share with the other mayors of Europe?
We are developing our system of urban planning based on participation. Every important project is consulted with the city planner, architects, advisory boards, external experts and public. We use some IT tools but also old school techniques like fieldwork or round table talks. First idea is usually elaborate and deeply discussed into a detailed assignment.
You have been an executive director, a local councillor and currently - president of a floorball club, father and a mayor at the same time. How do you manage to handle all those tasks? Are you applying your business know-how to the local governance?
I believe my business and NGO experience is a very good combination for running a town. Handling all those tasks is easier when you can walk only 20 minutes or ride a bike for 5 minutes from home to a town hall. It’s easier when you have not just your home and wife, but also both grandmas of my children in the same town. Benefits of living in Krnov are here even for its mayor.
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