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The Buoyancy of the Verbano-Cusio-Ossola (VCO) Industrial Area
Roma - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - A turnover of more than 300 million euros, about 30% of the national total,180 businesses and 2,200 workers in the household goods sector alone. This is the Verbano-Cusio-Ossola (VCO) industrial area, in Verbania in Piedmont, which exports 40% of its output, while 60% is sold on the home market.
"In particular we export to EU countries", explained Mauro Caminito, the manager of the VCO Industrial Union, "although prospects are looking up as far as Eastern Europe is concerned, especially Rumania and Bulgaria. We also have a very good relationship now with France, Germany, Britain, Austria and Holland. In some sectors we have a good relationship with the US too."
According to the VCO Industrial Union manager, it is worthwhile for foreign investors to put their money into Italy "because of the technological ability, the skilled workforce, the highly qualified technicians and the country's technical/strategic standing. Some businesses have chosen our area in particular, making it a centre for research, technological ability and highly qualified personnel."
In particular, the VCO manager goes on, a study has been made on "technological innovation, involving a large number of businesses: from that point of view we've been able to see plenty of confidence, hard work, care and ideas."
The VCO is one of the areas officially recognised by the Piedmont Region. Altogether it consists of 41 administrative localities with a total of about 60,000 inhabitants living in an area of almost 1,000 square kilometres. Geographically the VCO area is situated between Lake Maggiore (also known as Verbano), Lake Orta (or Cusio) and the Val d'Ossola district consisting of plain (20%), foothills (50%) and mountains (30%). Population density is below that of most Italian districts. The area is famous mainly for producing metal tableware and kitchen utensils. Their importance to the local economy is shown by the fact that household articles make up 60% of the province's exports in the metalware sector.
The number of businesses in the manufacturing sector is about 1,260 (23% of the total), and about half of these, with a total of 4,850 staff, are in metalware production, the area's speciality.
As far as company structure is concerned, employment in the sector is provided mainly by family-run handicraft businesses Their employment-creating capacity, though divided into very small company units, amounts to about 1,000 workers: these are generally tiny companies working in related activities.
The average employment level in this area is close to 60%, as against a national average of 42%, while the unemployment rate is estimated at 7.7%.
Analysis into business sectors shows that about 4% of businesses work in the agriculture and extraction sector, 35% are in industry and the rest are in other activities, especially building, trade, services and tourism. The number of businesses is 5,554 (one every 11 inhabitants), of which 45% are in crafts. The organisational pattern in the area is that half the businesses are partnerships (most of these being in crafts) while only 15% are limited companies.
The area's productive heartland is Alto Cusio, to the north of Lake Orta, with the lakeside villages of Omegna, Gravellona Toce and Casale Corte Cerro. The area's main products are household items, valves of various kinds and taps. Production has extended beyond these to other kinds of mechanical instruments. The production of these objects boasts a long tradition: the first modern industrial businesses started here in the mid nineteenth century as extensions of local handicraft traditions. It is not unusual to find descendants of the founders still running many of these businesses today.