Daems report sees potential for 4 500 new job opportunities in Limburg
The Flemish and federal governments could create as many as 4 500 jobs in Limburg in the short term if they have the guts to give the go-ahead to a number of projects that have reached a deadlock. These findings, based on the final report of the expert group led by Herman Daems, professor at the University of Leuven, were announced on TV Limburg on Tuesday evening. The group was formed after the closure of the Ford Genk factory to look for economic potential in the province. The report was commissioned by Flemish minister-president Kris Peeters CD&V and will be officially presented on Friday. According to the report, Limburg could face a 5-year backlog as a result of the plant’s closure. The strategic action plan, Strategisch Actieplan Limburg in het Kwadraat SALK, which was established to address this problem, hinges on six tenets, i.e. more jobs, a stronger focus on innovation, better transport and schooling, more exports and more emphasis on properly geared SMEs. The report suggests that these tenets could serve as an example for innovation in all of Flanders, and further advises that Limburg should become more accessible via road, water and railroad connections. To improve road access, the planned North-South link must connect the north of Limburg with the rest of the province, The E313 motorway must be widened to three sections and the city of Sint-Truiden must be linked to the E40 motorway. As far as inland shipping is concerned, the bridges over the Albert Channel should be elevated and finally the rail infrastructure should be extended by means of the Ijzeren Rijn, a railway line which links the German Ruhr district with the Antwerp harbour, with railway lines 18 and 20 being put into service and the Spartacus Plan for the construction of fast tram lines in Hasselt and to Maastricht being started.