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Genoa bounces back
Roma - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - For decades Genoa, together with Milan and Turin, had been one of the three corners of Italy's so-called Industrial Triangle. Manufacturing had grown strongly around its port, and the city was playing a key role. Then came the downturn, starting in the early 70's and bottoming in the late 80's. Important businesses closed down, especially in the iron and steel sector, and the port also went into decline.
De-industrialization seemed to have taken a fatal hold on Genoa, the third corner of the Triangle, while the North's two major industrial cities surged forward with their eyes firmly fixed on European markets, shaking off the difficulties of those decades with much greater ease. As for Genoa, the outlook seemed gloomy indeed, and the whole city felt plunged into an atmosphere of decline.
To a large extent, however, this negative outlook has been overturned by recent developments.
Since the early 90's Genoa has been a magnet for investment in a sector light years away from its old pattern of industrialization based on heavy industry and the port activities serving it. The old docks have been transformed into one of Europe's main container ports. The iron foundries have been replaced by high-technology companies. The thick clouds of smoke that used to belch out of factory chimneys have disappeared to make way for computer screens. Genoa today is one of Italy's key high-technology centres, where private business, research institutes and universities have teamed up into a powerful force to restore the city's chances of bright future.
That is how Genoa electronics and high-technology special district got started. It now numbers 7,500 workers in over 150 companies, including some important ones on a national or international scale (Marconi, Esaote, Elsag, Piaggio Aero Industries, Siemens Automation) and dozen of small or medium-sized ones. The companies in Genoa's high-tech special district all have ICT as their underlying technological basis. That takes in a vast range of sectors: from electronic and microelectronic components to information processing, from Internet to multimedia, from automation, control and robotics to telecommunications and from bio-medical and bio-instrumental technology to aerospace and complementary advanced technologies such as precision mechanics and special processing.
The district now surging ahead in the world of the New Economy, has its roots in Genoa's great industrial tradition, which made a decisive contribution to Italy's economic growth from the late 19th century onwards. After the Second World War state-financed heavy industry had a dominant role in Genoa, taking in sectors such as energy, plant, engineering iron and steel and ship building.
From the 80's, however, the industrial model based on large state-financed companies went into a deep structural decline, making way instead for new technological activities connected with industrial automation, electronics and telecommunications. The 90's saw the development of new companies in the fields of microelectronics, robotics, bio-medical engineering, software and, more recently, fields connected to Internet world.
The Genoa special district is one of the Italy's earlier examples of a "technological special district" and can ever be considered one of the mayor ones in Europe.
All the latest indicators concerning industry in Liguria, the region around Genoa, show a significant and favourable reversal of recent trends. The truth is that the "new economy", in a broad sense, is already a growing reality and that taking advantage of its huge potentiality can set in motion a positive development process for the whole economy of the region. In general, in companies in the electronics and high-technology sector we observe the factors typically present in the system of "special district": the concentration of companies in a particular geographical area, the prevalence of industrial activity, specialized technological and production skills, and roots in the local socio-economic context.