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Poznan's Euro 2012 social legacy

Poznan's Euro 2012 social legacy
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Poznan rises early. The city of just over half a million has with Warsaw the lowest unemployment rate in Poland and getting to work on time and in good humour is important.

The morning commute has taken on a bit of style with a gleaming new train station. The main concourse was finished in time for football’s Euro 2012 tournament. There is more of the complex to be completed.

Big sporting events can often leave behind white elephants with a city struggling to recoup its investment. Poznan has a new transport infrastructure which is earning its keep, including a fleet of 40 new trams which glide from the suburbs to the centre.

Poland spent more on roads than it did on sporting venues and Poznan has benefited with the completion of the A2 motorway between Berlin and the city. The journey time has been cut by almost a half. A boost for fans during the football championships and a lasting legacy for business and logistic firms.

Paul McDowell, euronews reporter in Poznan says:
“Trams, trains, a new highway, a complete new transport hub. But what about the things you can’t see out of the tram windows, the things you can’t touch and feel. It’s what we call the social legacy. What is the social legacy of Euro 2012?”

Pictures of Poznan which hosted three games went global during the summer showpiece tournament, and in the coffee shops and bars the matches united the locals creating a feeling of community.

Poznan’s mayor, Ryszard Grobelny is in his fourth term of office. Sensing that feeling of unity and noting changes in his constituents’ thinking comes with the job.

“I see the people of Poznan now more open and more willing to share their opinions because they feel they are not individuals and they believe they share common thoughts and ideas. There is more of a community feeling and that has shown itself as people have become more involved in city life. We have just agreed the social budget for the city and more people have become involved with ideas for projects and how the money should be spent than we could ever have imagined. That willingness to get involved hasn’t just increased it has exploded,” he said.

The number of visitors during the tournament exceeded all expectations, around double what the city had reckoned.

The recently restored round house is known as one of the pearls of Polish modernism and a stop off on the tourist trail along with many other sites like the statue of the Golem. Poznan is the birthplace of Rabbi Loew the creator of the Golem of Prague. Tourist chiefs, like Jakub Pindych who is the marketing manager for the city believe a message from the matches in June is spreading.

“According to our research we found that the 140,000 people who visited Poznan during the Euro championships left totally satisfied with they way they were looked after here in the city. Thanks to that we have made many friends now who when they went back home recommended Poznan as a great place to come for a weekend or for a holiday.”

Shoppers, cafe society, fashion and art mix in the modern shopping centre. Workshops in the atrium help and guide aspiring designers.

Poznan is known as, “The City of know-how” and encourages, mentors and provides financial assistance for people wanting to start their own business.

One such firm, Rapcraft has grasped the initiative. For over a year now they have been developing 3-D printing, sharing their knowledge and experience with schools and colleges in Poznan.

This machine the company has designed and built, like the software they use is open source meaning there are no patent or copyright restrictions – the aim is to help and encourage others to develop such printing methods.

But their plans for the direction of the company have changed since the summer as the managing director, Bartosz Barlowski explained: “We started to think of our business in a global way. Thanks to Euro 2012 we saw so many international folk coming to Poznan. We came up with an idea, ok lets bring this machine and show it all around Europe, drive it around in a van. The project is called Rapcraft and we intend to show it all around Europe and this helped us to think in a global way about our business.”

Sport too continues to think beyond the city boundaries. This Olympic size swimming pool opened 12 months ago and has enabled Poznan to bid for international events. Next year it will host the European junior championships.

There is a spin off for families too with another 10 pools in the aquatic centre. Up to 6,000 people a day enjoy the facilities here.

The aim now is to build on the momentum created in the Poznan municipal stadium and to keep the world informed of how the city is moving forward. That’s a job which Paul Newsham who is an official blogger for the city is doing.

“My job is to tell people in English what is happening in the city. I was also an official blogger during Euro 2012. The wonderful thing about the Euros from my perspective as someone who lives here is the legacy it will provide for the city. Euro 2012 was fantastic it has been and gone, but Poznan continues to live, it continues to grow and it continues to develop.”