How the Free State is promoting structural change

With the campaign "Hier wird was", the Free State of Saxony wants to motivate people and show that creative minds are making a difference in Lusatia.

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Das Bild zeigt einen Herren vor einen Plakat zum Strukturwandel.
Dr. Mario Naumann from Chemnitz University of Technology, project manager of the "CarbonLabFactory", is one of the faces of the Free State of Saxony's "Hier wird was" campaign for structural change. Constanze Knappe

By Constanze Squire

Does Lusatia have women's power? For Dorit Baumeister, there's no question about it. The head of the construction and urban planning department in Weißwasser is herself an impressive example of how women are getting involved in structural change with her vivacity and creativity. Together with her team, she not only deals with everyday issues such as potholes, but also with major structural change projects such as the railroad station, where the go-ahead was given last Friday for conversion and refurbishment, or the former glass school, which is to become an attractive educational location with coal phase-out money.

Dorit Baumeister is one of the faces of a large-scale campaign by the Free State of Saxony on structural change. According to Regional Development Minister Thomas Schmidt (CDU), three messages are linked to "Something is happening here": The aim is to show that something is being created in Lusatia, that people can get involved themselves and that the Free State supports them in doing so. The campaign is necessary because there are still many false clichés and prejudices about the Lusatia The Minister of State said that we wanted and needed to counteract this.

Das Bild zeigt ein Plakat mit einer Frau drauf zum Strukturwandel.
The poster with Dorit Baumeister, Head of the Department of Construction and Urban Planning in Weißwasser, is intended to show that women play an important role in structural change. Constanze Knappe

Large posters at 62 locations

Yesterday, he presented the campaign at the Boxberg tourist information office. Since last week, large posters have been hanging at 62 locations, including four in Weißwasser, eight in Hoyerswerda, but also in Bautzen, Görlitz, Kamenz, Zittau and other places. They are intended to make people think, encourage them to join in and show that things are finally getting underway.

According to Thomas Schmidt, he can understand that some people have doubts about the structural change because very little has been visible to the outside world so far. This is also due to the fact that the work of the so-called Coal Commission dates back a while and the legislative process also took longer. It was therefore only really started two and a half years ago. In the meantime, 76 projects with a financial volume of 408 million euros have been approved. "Structural change is not a project for the future. We are already in the middle of it," emphasized Schmidt. Declarations of intent and plans are difficult to make visible, but the first projects are now being implemented.

Five faces for the campaign

Five protagonists were selected for the campaign. In addition to Dorit Baumeister in Weißwasser, this includes Ines Hofmann from the Municipal Hospital Görlitz. With a view to the new surgical robot, she answers the question of whether know-how and Lusatia go together with "That's for sure". Or the mayor of Bernsdorf, Harry Habel, who is strongly committed to the expansion of the Strassgräbchen industrial park and the establishment of an Austrian company. 500 jobs are in prospect. The question of whether there is any point in transforming Lusatia does not arise for him. Or childcare worker René Büttner from the daycare center in Ralbitz-Rosenthal. More space for children offers families prospects. Where he comes from, the young people of Lusatia are certainly not running away. The QR code printed on each poster takes you to a video in which the person with the face presents the respective project in more detail.

Thomas Schmidt sees "the creative minds who want to make a difference here" as the "most important resource" in structural change. Structural change is not imposed from above. And that is exactly what the "Something is happening here" campaign wants to convey. However, the large posters are just the beginning. It continues with online advertising and on social media channels. The Free State is spending 100,000 euros on this - financed from the budget of the Saxon State Ministry for Regional Development. In 2024, new faces will be on display and the protagonists will always be linked to specific projects.

The "Hier wird was" campaign is directed inwards. It is intended to motivate people in the region. The Minister of State wanted to get one more thing off his chest at this point: He was annoyed by the prejudice that structural change is gender-specific. Many women are strongly committed to the transformation of Lusatia. And the approved projects by no means only create jobs for men. Saxon Agency for Structural Development (SAS) a larger campaign that has an external impact. For example, posters in Berlin and elsewhere will be used to encourage people to go to Lusatia because the future is being created in the former coal-mining region.

Into the future with "green" carbon

Will anything work in Lusatia without coal? Dr.-Ing. Mario Naumann doesn't have to think twice. "We're working on it," is his answer. And you can take that quite literally. Because the research assistant at the Institute for Lightweight Structures at the TU Chemnitz is one of the faces of the campaign because, as project manager of the "CarbonLabFactorySaxony", he and his colleagues are moving heaven and earth to set up a pilot plant for the production of so-called "green carbon" in Boxberg.

Das Bild zeigt einen Mann bei einer Präsentation.
Prof. Dr. Lothar Kroll from Chemnitz University of Technology is also Managing Director of the Merge research cluster. "Carbon is the material of the future," he emphasizes. With the planned "CarbonLabFactory" near Boxberg, the company is at the forefront worldwide. Constanze Knappe

In September 2020, Minister of State Thomas Schmidt, Leag CEO Hubertus Altmann, Professor Dr. Lothar Kroll as Director of the Institute for Lightweight Structures at Chemnitz University of Technology and representatives of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft signed a declaration of intent in Boxberg to build such a facility at this location by 2026. The federal and state governments are providing a total of 62 million euros for this. As was reported yesterday, the funds are about to be made available - roughly half to Chemnitz University of Technology and half to the state-owned company Sächsisches Immobilien- und Baumanagement (SIB) as the project sponsor. This means that the project is the "first project from the state arm" to enter the implementation phase, emphasized Schmidt. "If all moving parts in Germany were just ten percent lighter, 100 million tonnes of CO2 could be saved every year," explained Prof. Dr. Lothar Kroll in Boxberg three years ago in September. Yesterday, he once again emphasized that lightweight construction is "a key to climate protection" because carbon fibres could save 80 percent in weight. And this applies to all areas, such as cars, airplanes, machines, wind turbines and tennis rackets. Carbon fibers could also be used to replace steel beams in concrete components, saving energy and costs. Carbon is extremely tear-resistant, stiff, light and recyclable. And the use of renewable raw materials such as cellulose and algae makes it "green" and therefore a material of the future, according to Prof. Kroll. Carbon is still too expensive to replace other materials. But research is also being carried out into this.

150 employees are to carry out research here

A facility for applied research is to be built in Boxberg, surrounded by production lines for lightweight construction materials. So far, there have only been comparable facilities in the USA and Australia. The facility in Boxberg would therefore have a unique selling point in Europe. According to Kroll, up to 150 people could be employed in research, and three to four times as many in the accompanying industry, and the plant is to be built in the industrial estate in the Kringelsdorf district. According to Mayor Hendryk Balko (WV Boxberg), the originally planned site at the Boxberg power plant would first require land-use planning, which cannot be completed by 2026. The now favored municipal site was once home to open-cast mining facilities at Reichwalde. Balko is delighted that "a unique infrastructure for research and development is being created there". This is only logical for a municipality with two open-cast mines and a power plant, he said. In any case, the municipality will do everything it can to ensure that this happens.

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