A “fitness program” is intended to revitalize the inner cities of Bavaria.

In many cities in the Free State, numerous shops did not survive the corona pandemic. Some stores are also empty in Coburg. In order to revitalize city centers and strengthen them for the future, the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs launched the “Strong Centers” funding program last year.

Shopping behavior has changed during the pandemic

Janis Franz advises a customer in her fashion store in the center of Coburg on the new spring fashions. The junior boss of two fashion stores is now expecting a lot of customers, the spring business after two hard years of Corona is important. Customer buying behavior has changed markedly, with many conveniently ordering online, says Franz. Therefore, she put a lot of work and time into offering and advertising online during the pandemic.

“Fitness program” of the Ministry of Economy

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

The model cities were able to work with external urban and regional planners to develop strategies in the areas of mobility, housing, digital and mobile work, leisure and culture, changes in the commercial structure and quality of stay. These strategies should now also be accessible to other cities and municipalities and encourage participation.

City of Coburg: Participation paid off

The mayor of Coburg, Dominik Sauerteig (SPD), is satisfied with the participation in the program of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Inner cities are under a lot of pressure, especially due to the pandemic. The advice and support of external experts was very important, as was the exchange with other cities. His conclusion: The show has shown that Coburg is on the right track. Citizen surveys and stakeholder surveys have also provided new insights.

“It was an instrument that was established by the Free State at the right time.” Mayor of Coburg Dominik Sauerteig

Many ideas for the revitalization of the city center

According to Lord Mayor Sauerteig, the city of Coburg has identified nine fields of action. Among other things, they want to eliminate vacancies and strengthen life in the city. But it is also about increasing the quality of the stay in the city center, the green islands should invite you to stay. In this process, the city of Coburg can already draw on a project that started last year. “Die Stadtmacher”, an association of employees of Wohnbau und Stadtentwicklungs GmbH, city management and business development, has taken over the design of the city center.

Stadtmacher as a creative source of ideas

The “Stadtmacher” wants to bring a lot of people to the city center of Coburg on Saturday. The city manager, Andrea Kerby, explains that a day of action on the theme of bicycles, accompanied by cultural and gastronomic offers, aims to attract those interested. Retail is also involved. In general, everyone is required to revitalize the city center. Kerby is also referring to the change in many people’s buying behavior since the pandemic. Changing that and getting citizens to shop and stay in the city again is not easy. Therefore, more campaigns are being planned, such as a shopping Sunday, according to the city manager.

Concept store as test balloon

A concept store will soon be built in a vacant store in the center of Coburg, bringing together local shopping and online retail. Clothes can be tried on there, but customers can buy them online, not in the store, but with a custom fit. In cooperation with an online platform, the aim is to test whether the concept is popular and whether package returns from the online retailer can be reduced.

Positive conclusion also in other model municipalities

Also in the city of Schwandorf in der Oberpfalz, the result of participation in the “Strong Centers” program is positive. In the meantime, not only have model projects been developed, but the city council has already decided on them, according to BR. Among other things, several squares in Schwandorf are to be greened and enhanced with seating furniture. In addition, analog vacancy management should work digitally in the future and network many players with each other. Event and leisure areas are also planned on the currently closed parking decks in the Naab multi-storey car park.

Strengthening networking and Sunday shopping as a wish

Janis Franz, the junior manager of two fashion stores in Coburg, makes two concrete wishes to strengthen the Coburg city center. Further expansion of online opportunities for player networking and Sunday shopping planned. This is like pop music: no one admits it, everyone goes, says Franz. Those days are important to increase the frequency in the city center and also to win new customers across the country. Another hope: new stores in currently vacant properties. Because each new store makes the city center more attractive.

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