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Bremerhaven celebrates its resurrection from the crisis: as a center for the construction of offshore wind farms.

TO THE THING - thoughts of our chief editor

Bremerhaven is back

Since my studies I am dealing with successful and less successful structural change. I maintain that variant two almost always has the upper hand. Cities and regions that have once failed to make economic connections are usually lagging behind for a very long time and, despite financial incentives, often remain in economic difficulties. Even a positive macroeconomic recovery changes little: The statistics of the federal states varies from month to month, but the distance between the federal states with each other hardly changes, just like that of employment agency districts.

Bremerhaven seemed to be a typical example for a long time (article from page 88). Back in the 1970s, it was hoped that 200, 000 people would live here. But things changed - through a triple meltdown: the fishing industry collapsed, shipyards closed down, and thousands of jobs were lost as the US forces closed their huge infrastructure base. As a result, the unemployment rate climbed to 25.6 percent - a high among the big cities. That was in 2005, and this despite the fact that a gripping structural support attempted to re-emphasize the economy. Fruits have been harvesting the city lately. Attractions such as the German Emigration Center (opened in 2005) or the Klimehaus 8º Ost (opened in 2009) attract many tourists to the city. More importantly, the boom in offshore wind energy created more than 3, 000 high-quality jobs - with the result that the current unemployment rate (April 2013) is 15.2 percent. A good 10 percentage points below the high - but still 8.1 percentage points above the national average!

It was a stroke of luck that Bremerhaven was fully committed to the structural change brand "Windenergie". Whether and how long the revival of Bremerhaven will last depends very much on how the energy transition in Germany is developing and whether it is being used as a model for other countries. The threat of job losses at the offshore designer Weserwind is a first flash on the horizon. But there are still fair weather indicators: The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is investing massively in its Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology in Bremerhaven - with interesting perspectives, as the local Vice-President Jan Wenske explains in a bdw interview.

By the way: Bremerhaven, which is worth a visit, currently has 113, 000 inhabitants.

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