A “fitness program” aims to revitalize Bavaria’s inner cities

In many cities in the Free State, several stores did not survive the corona pandemic. Some shops are also empty in Coburg. To revitalize the inner cities and strengthen them for the future, the Bavarian Ministry of Economy last year launched the “Strong Centers” funding program.

Purchasing behavior has changed during the pandemic

Janis Franz advises a customer in her fashion store in the center of Coburg on the new spring fashion. The junior manager of two fashion stores is now hoping for many customers, the spring business after two hard Corona years is important. Customers’ buying behavior has changed significantly, many order conveniently online, says Franz. Therefore, a lot of work and time went into online offers and advertising during the pandemic.

“Fitness program” from the Ministry of Finance

In addition to Coburg, Beilngries, Kempten, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Schwandorf were selected and allowed to train in the “gym”, as announced by Minister of Economy Huber Aiwanger (free voters).

The model cities were able to collaborate with external urban and regional planners to develop strategies on the topics of mobility, housing, digital and mobile work, leisure and culture, changes in the retail structure and quality of residence. These strategies should now also be available to other cities and municipalities and encourage participation.

City of Coburg: Attendance was well worth it

Coburg’s Lord Mayor Dominik Sauerteig (SPD) is pleased with the participation in the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ program. The inner cities are under great pressure, not least due to the pandemic. The advice and support of external experts as well as the exchanges with other cities were very important. His conclusion: The program has shown that Coburg is on the right track. Citizen surveys and stakeholder surveys have also brought new insights.

“It was an instrument that was set up by the Free State at the right time.” Coburg’s Lord Mayor Dominik Sauerteig

Many ideas for revitalizing inner city

According to Mayor Sauerteig, the city of Coburg has identified nine areas for action. Among other things, they will remove vacancies and strengthen life in the city. But it is also about increasing the quality of the stay in the city center, green islands should invite to linger. In this process, the city of Coburg may already be falling back on a project that started last year. “Die Stadtmacher”, an association of employees from Wohnbau und Stadtentwicklungs GmbH, city management and business development, has taken responsibility for the inner city design.

Stadtmacher as a creative pool of ideas

“Stadtmacher” wants to bring many people to Coburg’s city center already on Saturday. Municipal Manager Andrea Kerby explains that an action day on the subject of bicycles, accompanied by cultural and gastronomic offerings, should attract those interested. Retail is also involved. In general, everyone is obliged to revitalize the city center. Kerby also refers to many people’s changed buying behavior since the pandemic. Changing that and getting citizens to shop and stay in the city again is not easy. Therefore, according to the mayor, further campaigns are being planned, such as a shopping Sunday.

Concept big as a test balloon

In a vacant store in the center of Coburg, a concept store will soon be built that will bring together local shopping and online retail. Clothes can be tried there, but customers can then buy them online, not in the store, but with a tailored fit. The goal is in collaboration with an online platform to test whether the concept is popular and whether the return of packages from online retail can be reduced.

Positive conclusion also in other model municipalities

Also in the city of Schwandorf in der Oberpfalz, the result of the participation in the program “Strong centers” is positive. In the meantime, not only have model projects been developed, but according to BR, the city council has already taken a position on them. Among other things, various spaces in Schwandorf will be green and upgraded with seating. In addition, the analogue position management must in future function digitally and network many actors with each other. Event and leisure areas are also planned on currently closed parking decks in the Naab car park.

Strengthening networks and Sunday shopping as a wish

Janis Franz, junior manager of two fashion stores in Coburg, formulates two specific wishes to strengthen Coburg’s inner city. The further expansion of online networking opportunities between the players and the planned Sunday shopping. It’s like pop music: no one admits it, everyone goes, says Franz. Such days are important to increase the frequency in the city center and also to win new customers nationwide. Another hope: new stores in vacant properties. For each new store makes the city center more attractive.

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