OULUJÄRVI LEADER – DEVELOPING RURAL AREAS SINCE 1996
The Oulujärvi LEADER association has carried out development work in rural areas and operated as a LEADER group since 1996. The members of our association are local residents, associations, businesses and municipalities. Our area of operation comprises the municipalities of Paltamo, Puolanka and Vaala and the rural areas of the City of Kajaani. This region encompasses Finland’s fourth largest lake, Lake Oulujärvi and stretches as far as the Kainuu upland area in the North. The surface area of the region is about 7700 km2, of which 1 208 km2, i.e. more than 15%, consists of waterways. About 34 700 people live within the area of Oulujärvi Leader’s operations, which is approx. 600 km from Helsinki.
During the LEADER II period from 1997 – 1999, 92 projects were implemented with approx. EUR 2.2 million.
During the LEADER+ period from 2000 - 2006, we granted a total of EUR 3.3 million to projects. Almost 150 projects were implemented.
During the programme period of 2007 – 2013, we supported a total of 172 projects with approx. EUR five million.
Our operations are comprehensive and versatile:
- we motivate and support people to develop the areas in which they live
- we finance the initiatives and projects of various practitioners in our region
- we provide advice on how to plan and implement projects
- we apply for funding ourselves from different sources and implement projects that benefit rural areas
- we participate in development work groups and discuss issues from a rural perspective
- we organize training, information, and theme day events
- we also work as the Fisheries Local Action Group which manages and implements the strategy of the Kainuu and Koillismaa (North East Finland) Fishing Leader programme.
PROGRAMME PERIOD 2014 – 2020
We are implementing our ‘Hand in hand towards something new’ development strategy according to Leader principles. We have EUR 6.5 million at our disposal during the 2014 – 2020 programme.
Our strategic vision for 2020 is “a lively, pleasant, and bravely innovative rural environment”. The strategy has a business and employment focus but also emphasizes collaboration. We are stressing the importance of cooperation and competence because they increase innovation: the will and ability to seek and discover new types of solutions.
The strategy has four themes:
- Business operations based on nature -> aiming to develop all year round tourism, the versatile use of natural products and to increase the use of local energy sources
- Empowerment through creativity -> aiming, amongst others, to increase collaborative cultural activities, bring traditions to life and to support the generation of entrepreneurship in the culture sector
- Pleasant environment, growing responsibility for the environment -> aiming, amongst others, to save energy and the environment, to care for the landscape and waterways and to create an attractive living environment
- Smooth everyday life in a lively community -> aiming, amongst others, to create a mix of services and attractive recreation and leisure opportunities
The purpose of the strategy is to create new business and jobs and to increase the satisfaction of local residents, to increase the competence of local inhabitants and to strengthen the competitiveness of businesses and to reinforce the operations of associations and clubs. An important perspective is the impact of the initiatives and projects on young adults which the region needs in order to remain active and survive.
International cooperation is part of our work. Cooperation projects have been implemented during various programme periods with partners from France, Denmark, Sweden, England, Hungary and Italy.