Sectors that are very strong in Fryslân are recreation and tourism, agriculture, water technology and high-tech companies. Prospective Frij Fryslân will encourage family businesses, cooperatives and small and medium-sized enterprises. The organization of work and economic existence is linked to the age-old and successful formula of the cooperative tradition in Fryslân.
With regard to the work in Frij Fryslân, these cooperative traditions of the Frisians are taken as the point of departure. The private and cooperative can coexist and compete with each other. Many companies can thrive by implementing a cooperative organizational structure.
Production is mainly about making high-quality products, both as a partial product and as an end product. The development of 3D printing technology will be a priority. There are also many opportunities to process ‘sustainable raw materials’ in all possible innovative ways. The formation of cooperatives could also be a great incentive for the conservation of small villages. Good examples of cooperatives in Fryslân were Frico, the Condens, the Suvelbank (later Friesland Bank) and much earlier the communal obligation to build and maintain the sea dikes.
The experiences in the city of Arrasate Mondragón (not far from Bilbao) can serve as inspiration. Home to 75,000 people, a thriving overarching cooperative employs 82,174 employees, which successfully endured the 2008 financial crisis. In total, 120 cooperatives are affiliated to this umbrella, all of which are run by the employees. It started in 1943 at the initiative of a local pastor with a school and later a bank. The cooperative umbrella now forms part of a university and all kinds of very modern companies with a lot of modern production. In 2013, the annual turnover amounted to 15 billion euros.
With a Frij Fryslân, the people themselves can take back control and stimulate the economy. Scientific research has shown that regions and countries that have control over their own economies also perform significantly better in terms of GDP and employment. In this way Fryslân can once again offer a future to talented young people, who now almost all go to places outside of Fryslân to study or work.
The purpose of the extra money for the economy and the extra control is primarily intended to help SMEs by removing redundant rules, facilitating companies and a good connection between education and the labour market. Frij Fryslân will again create a complete package of facilities, which is also good for employment. An fully-fledged Frisian university will keep young, talented people in the region. This also counteracts population decline and a brain drain and will give an extra boost to industry, work and the economy.