The bad weather in Europe helped to upset the programme of the Project Meeting and study visits in Drenthe, which was held from 12-14 December 2017. Mayor of Coevorden Bert Bouwmeester who opened the first day, therefore had a very small audience. Luckily most participants were able to join us during the day. By the evening the group was almost complete.  

After the speech of the mayor, project leader Gerard Meijers from the Province of Drenthe told about the local OSIRIS project. The group then worked on a peer review of the region. Also on the programme was a visit to Startlab: a small company in Coevorden which is working on creating new jobs for youngsters and people with a distance to the job market. In the afternoon we visited Emmen. Fist we had a presentation in Wildlands Adventure Zoo, by director Frankwin van Beers. He told us about the concept of the zoo and the development of the zoo. Then we could see the zoo by ourselves during a short expedition.

A visit to the location of the old zoo followed: this place is now being developed into a place of new initiatives for art, jobs, crafts and other things. We visited the gallery of Ingo Leth, who surprised us by giving all of us a special handmade ‘Hunebed’.

Also located in the old zoo is Toolbox, which has flexible workspaces for ‘makers’, all kinds of people who like to work with their hands and use special machines for that. Students, hobbyists and entrepreneurs can rent a space and use the facilities. We had a tour through the building, heard about the plans and possibilities of the different machines and saw people working on wood, iron and 3D-printers.

On the morning of the second day we started in the open air museum of Ellert and Brammert in Schoonoord. President of the Local Action Group of LEADER Zuidoost-Drenthe told us about the actions of the LAG and the projects of LEADER and OSIRIS. This was followed by a peer review workshop. This time we did it for the municipality of  Fundao: a presentation by Michaela Gil, followed by a workshop. After lunch, we had a short tour around the open air museum.

The afternoon was covered by some very interesting study visits to local entrepreneurs. The theme was guilds and crafts. Kirsten Alferink told us about her company Glass craft of Cramer. Her husband René Cramer showed us a historic old farmhouse and told about the constructions and sustainable rebuilding. Kees van Wijngaarden taught us about beams and constructions.

The last stop was the company of Schutrups. Once started as a shoe store, now home for thousands of shoes, incentives, entertainment, and a very big practice for podiatry and other feet-related issues. The company is very active, has it´s own academy and  a lot of plans for expanding and exploring new markets and activities. Very inspiring!

The overall theme "Building on local power" was truly demonstrated in the very active work of the guilds and the local SMEs.