The business community has submitted to Mayor Juhana Vartiainen a petition detailing their concerns about their lack of input in the development of the Helsinki city centre.
“It is unreasonable to plan for or make decisions about projects that have a major impact on the operating conditions of businesses without consulting those businesses. From now on, we demand that the views of the business community are taken into account early in the preparation stage, not afterwards,” says Markku Lahtinen, Director of the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce.
As an example, Lahtinen brings up the Esplanadi area, which has been reduced to a construction site in the middle of high season. In 2024, all major entrance roads to Helsinki will be under construction simultaneously, cutting off access to the city centre significantly. The vitality index of the city centre has never been this weak.
“The efforts to expand the pedestrian areas of the city centre in the Esplanadi area were undertaken without consulting the local businesses and stakeholders. The city has been reluctant to review the implementation schedules for transportation investments. “It is indeed unfortunate that the business community was consulted about the principles of the transport system plan only after the Urban Environment Committee had made its decision,” Lahtinen says.
“When it comes to traffic planning, the city pits cars and other forms of transport against each other. There is no need for this, as the accessibility of the city centre for all forms of traffic is crucial for business,” says Timo Lappi, Managing Director of Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa.
“We have received numerous contacts from businesses in the city centre who are very concerned about the way in which the city is being developed. In order to restore the city centre’s disappearing vitality, it is important to listen to the businesses in the area and to engage in genuine cooperation between different stakeholders,” says Tiina Oksala, Managing Director of Helsingin Yrittäjät.
The petitioners’ message is clear: The views presented by the business community have been ignored in the development of the city centre, although they have been presented in various ways in the cooperation forums of the business community and the city. In order to increase the number of visitors to the Helsinki city centre, sufficient and attractive services must be offered to residents and visitors in the future as well. Lahtinen emphasises that the corporate structure in the city centre must not become one-sided. “In order to maintain 100,000 jobs, we need a much better dialogue between the city and the business community,” Lahtinen emphasises.
In addition to the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce, the petition has been signed by Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa, Finnish Commerce Federation, Helsingin Yrittäjät, Helsinki City Marketing ry, Akateeminen Kirjakauppa, Eckerö Line Oy, Helsingin Osuuskauppa Elanto, Instrumentarium, NoHo Partners Oyj, Kesko Oyj, Partioaitta Oy, Ravintolakolmio group, Scandic Hotels Oy, Sokotel Oy, Suomalainen Kirjakauppa, Stockmann Oyj Abp, Strawberry Finland, Tallink Silja Oy, Viking Line Oy, W- and SW-Restaurants Oy and Ylva.
Markku Lahtinen, Director, Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce, tel. +358 50 571 3564, email@example.com
Timo Lappi, Managing Director, Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa, tel. +358 40 734 5549, firstname.lastname@example.org
Simo Hiilamo, Director, Public Policy and Advocacy, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)50 350 7564, email@example.com
Tiina Oksala, Managing Director, Helsingin Yrittäjät, tel. +358 40 5481104, firstname.lastname@example.org
Krista Östman, Executive Director, Helsinki City Marketing, tel. +358 (0) 45 278 1278, email@example.com