Gnosjo Municipality

Hyltens Industial Museum, Gnosjo - BSM Scandinavia 2011Gnosjo is a small town that has made its presence felt via its manufacturing industry. 57% of the population is employed in the manufacturing industry; this is much higher than the county and national average of 28% and 17% respectively. However, what makes Gnosjo truly amazing is the origins of its manufacturing industry, and the trajectory its developmental path took. The manufacturing firms started off as steel mills and “garage companies” based in homes; from this meagre beginning, the industry slowly developed to handle more products and grew to the extent that it is now the defining feature of Gnosjo.

This growth trajectory is encapsulated in the Spirit of Gnosjo. Here the idea is to achieve much with limited resources, and if resources are insufficient, the industrial firms cooperate to overcome their problems. There is extensive use of networks to help businesses grow and develop. A prime example would be the monthly business meetings within the industry as a means to facilitate open conversation. This cooperation is better facilitated when contextualized to the small geographical distance between firms as a result of the concentration of the industry in Gnosjo. The firms are so cooperative that they are even open to the idea of lending or borrowing their tools. Such a notion is most probably unheard of in other parts of the world.

This small town also puts to death the notion that manufacturing is a sunset industry for developed nations. In fact, there is a significant rate of manufacturing start-ups. Another indication of great cooperativeness is that most SMEs are offshoots of older and more developed companies. To facilitate the entrepreneurial spirit amongst the younger generation, the Gnosjo Commune established the Gnosjo Education Centre which provides entrepreneurial classes. To ensure their sustainability, these firms are also adept at more that one product and they do not rely on only one customer, thus providing themselves with a buffer when economic shocks occur.

The Gnsojo Education Centre is more than just an education platform; it is also a social platform which provides social development and integration in Gnosjo. Not only does it provide education to Gnosjo residents via its links with universities in Gothenburg and Stockholm, it also provides adult education as well as Swedish courses for immigrant workers. The availability of Swedish courses for immigrants is of utmost importance because in its attempt to remain globally competitive, the manufacturing industry has hired immigrant workers. In addition to allowing the workers to be efficient workers, these Swedish courses provide them with the necessary language skills to interact and hopefully integrate into the Gnsojo community. Only through such integration can social stability be achieved.

With its roots firmly entrenched in the manufacturing industry, it is not surprising that people think the Gnosjo region is boring and has limited leisure options. But this is far from the truth – the Gnosjo region is blessed with leisure options. It is here that Store Mosse National Park, the largest bog in Sweden, is located. The Isabergs Alpine Resort and golf course are prime retreat destinations for many Swedes and foreigners as well. The Wild Wild West Theme Park in Gnosjo is so well done that American visitors have been known to comment that it is better than the real deal back in the States!

Blessed with a successful manufacturing industry as well as a surfeit of leisure options, Gnosjo is a thriving region that is set to maintain its development trajectory for years to come.

– Owen Ocktrindo Yeo

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