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The economic miracle of the Netherlands is taking place in the south

"The secret behind this North Brabant success? That has mainly to do with cooperation." That is what Ine Frings writes in her blog about the special and successful economic dynamics in this region.

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Ask the average Dutch person what drives our economy, and ten to one they will say: the main ports, namely Amsterdam with Schiphol Airport and Rotterdam with its port. Of course, the significance of Amsterdam and Rotterdam cannot be disputed, because if you look at the figures, you will see that the Rotterdam port generates more than 6% of the GDP. However, this is less than a third of what is being earned in North Brabant (20%). And that is something we hear far too little about. Growth seems unstoppable: according to economist Sylvester Eijffinger, by 2030 the province will account for no less than a quarter of the GDP. Largely based on pioneering innovations.

Drive to help each other

As a born and bred Brabanter, I am proud to live and work in this region. When I left Brabant after graduating, I could never have imagined that these developments would take place so quickly. Brainport Eindhoven is now seen as the European Silicon Valley. North Brabant has an innovative high-tech manufacturing industry, with such gems as ASML and other spin-offs from Philips, a strong automotive sector and a sizeable AgriFood sector.

The secret behind this North Brabant success? That has mainly to do with cooperation. Between companies, government and knowledge institutes. Between family businesses and young innovative start-ups. Everyone knows each other and there is an enormous drive to help each other. That is rooted in society and something that sets Brabant apart.

As a partner at Boer & Croon, I get to speak to a lot of entrepreneurs, directors and management boards of (family) businesses, public organisations and care and educational institutions. As a supervisor for Eindhoven City Marketing, chair of the jury for the Dutch Design Awards and member of various networks such as VNO NCW and the network in the construction and real estate sector, Lighthouse Club, I also hear a lot about what is going on in the region.

Innovative strength
This economic growth involves major changes. Growing pains and new needs. Where, for example, do we get all those clever people who can keep this innovative strength up to speed? All these innovations create a need for transformation and transition. The need for (further) digitalisation is often added to this. Suddenly, new international markets are beckoning. Matters such as financing and logistics must be rearranged. How will you manage to do that, and with which people?

Strategic challenges
Boer & Croon is regularly asked to contribute ideas about these types of strategic challenges and to help implement these changes. At Boer & Croon, we help organisations fill both permanent and temporary positions (executive search and interim management). Sometimes an assignment requires engaging the services of an experienced interim manager, other times the placing of young talent is the right way to bring a breath of fresh air into a company. Let me give you an example. One day, I received a phone call from a director-owner of an international concern with several production companies. This company had plans for international expansion and had set up a new factory for that purpose. This required a completely new strategy. By placing an experienced interim CEO there, they could immediately get to work on streamlining processes and other matters that were necessary for international growth. This entails a great deal: where should stocks be built up, how can costs be reduced and which commercial sales channels can be tapped? A number of projects flowed from this, in which our young talents were able to get stuck into. With our Management Solutions such as Commercial Excellence and Operations, Finance & Technology, and Transformation & Programme management, Boer & Croon delivers results: one way or another, and often faster than anticipated.

We are only at the beginning of a development that will make Brabant even more innovative, more sustainable and more internationally oriented. It's great that as an active player in the network, I can contribute solutions together with experienced managers and young talents from Boer & Croon to help steer that growth in the right direction.