Paula Erkkilän kommenttikirjoitus: The importance of regional team for a battery industry location

Pohjanmaan kauppakamarin toimitusjohtaja Paula Erkkilä kirjoitti Versus-lehteen kommentin Ejike Okonkwon kirjoitukseen “Regional actors’ agency for optimising access to the Nordic battery industrial sites”. Kommentti on julkaistu Versuksessa keskiviikkona 1.11.2023.

The importance of regional team for a battery industry location

Ejike Okonkwo’s article explains why the agency of regional actors is crucial for optimizing access to the location site of the Nordic battery industry. In doing so, the article enhances the understanding of the role of regional agency in the vast network of investments and their playground.

Terminology matters

In the article, the author highlights the significance of the network of regional actors in attracting battery investments to the Nordic region. The term ’agency’ may convey a static and even authoritative image. However, in this context of agency, it is more about a multidisciplinary ‘team’ and an extensive network of actors in the surrounding environment. While it may seem like a matter of semantics, communication also plays a crucial role in shaping the image of the region. It is essential that the terminology used reflects also the language used by the actors themselves.

Role as a mediator and dialogue

In the Finnish context, it is important to also highlight and remember the crucial role and responsibility of Business Finland in the Investment in operation. This expertise and resource utilization for the benefit of regions are not adequately emphasized in the article. Regionally, this is important as we are a globally small country that cannot afford to disperse resources.

However, Okonkwo brings up an important perspective that regional actors are involved in developing the national battery strategies, a policy document highlighting accessibility challenges and incentivizing policies for their improvement. At this point, regional and national collaboration and dialogue are appropriately emphasized.

Another crucial aspect is the relationship and role of the regional team with the local community. Open and regular dialogue can also prevent the formation of unnecessary prejudices, which may sometimes lead to futile complaint processes. In this regard, the regional team plays a special intermediary role in deepening the dialogue between potential investments and local communities.

Location, location, location

When making investment decisions, investors often begin with a comprehensive set of criteria, selecting potential candidates to the long list. Through subsequent stages of evaluation, this long list is refined into a short list, and finally to the stage where a location decision is being done.

These factors encompass the cost considerations for manufacturing in a specific area, the availability of skills and knowledge, logistical facilities and connections as well as the nature of the energy mix—typically favouring clean energy—that can sustain industry operations. Consequently, it can be affirmed that the importance of location – often expressed as ’location, location, location’ – cannot be underscored sufficiently.

Specific characteristics of battery value chain?

The author could have further explored the specific features or considerations involved in building agency within a sustainable battery value chain. Does trust, for instance, play a different role compared to traditional industrial investments? Is there a distinctive role for communication with local communities, investors, or the public in this context?

 

Paula Erkkilä is the CEO of Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce, PhD in leadership and organisations and MSc in geography. The West Coast in Finland is going through an enormous and historical investment wave in green transition. First investments in battery cluster have already started, and more is about to come. She monitors the situation and provides information about investments and their needs to many decision-making tables.

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