LONG IS THE JOURNEY n. 2 Fall 2015

Casal di Principe by Franco Cioffi (2013)

Election manifesto of a mayoral candidate from a civic society list (supported by the center-left and by social cooperatives engaged in the struggle against the Camorra) in Casal di Principe—a place of symbolic importance in the Caserta area of the Terra dei Fuochi (Land of Fires).

“The development (and also the redemption) of a region depends of several variables, all of which are, nevertheless, oriented towards a single goal: to foster the economy in order to ensure civility and (individual and collective) well-being. This social and economic framework can be easily identified in communities that ‘work,’ but is obviously difficult to establish in the absence of basic assumptions: a functional public sector and crafty, farsighted private enterprise.

What should be the role of politics in the cultivation of this framework of political economy in the region?

Reorganizing the municipal machinery

First, it is crucial to undertake an organizational review of the Municipality using a managerial/entrepreneurial approach (while adhering to public regulations).

Achieving this requires a high level of ethical and technical professionalism which, if not available internally within the municipal machinery, should be externally procured (consistent with available financial resources). Further, the discretion (on the part of the mayor) to appoint the General Secretary and the members of the Independent Evaluation Body is a useful and relevant opportunity in this regard.

Having created the task force (naturally with the contributions of internal executives), it is necessary to begin working towards priorities and objectives with the awareness that we are ‘obligated’ to achieve them (at least in part) without delay: to send a loud and clear message to detractors and to those ‘uninterested’ in the workings of the municipality.

Some of the immediately attainable and demonstrable outcomes (internally and externally) are: improvement of the ‘internal work environment’ through the introduction of a participative management style aimed at creating autonomous centers of responsibility at every clerical level; improvement of the physical aspects and equipment of the work environment; review of the organogram and general organization through a quality assessment; analysis of the training requirements of employees and consequent corrective actions; optimization of public works (cleanliness, road maintenance, public fixtures, safety, etc.); conformity with project SIOPE (Information System on the Operations of Public Bodies) for transparent and efficient internal accounting; improvement of public services.

All these operations, I might point out, have high impact and almost zero cost!

Creating an environment that supports local entrepreneurship in a process of consolidation and growth, and attracts investment capital from outside the region.

Entrepreneurship is the outcome of motivating processes that are stimulated, supported and oriented towards best practices (naturally taking into account regional vocations and traits). Here, the role of the public administration must necessarily be executed on two levels:

  • macro policies for regional development
  • actions targeted at and directed towards individual entrepreneurs (existing and potential)

With regard to the first point, much depends on the political orientation that one intends to attribute to these macro policies. I will restrict myself to observing that it would be wise to affirm and improve existing sectors (construction, agriculture, confectionery, the third sector, etc.) while simultaneously directing the region towards modern sectors and advanced technologies (web), so as to spur the rise of a new and larger entrepreneurial class. This would be the appropriate way to provide an effective and immediate response to the growing need for employment, especially among the youth. From this perspective, the role of the Sportello Unico Attività Produttive (SUAP) is of strategic importance. In fact, in addition to dealing with licenses and authorizations in general, it is also warranted to play an active part in regional development policies. In this regard, one could imagine the creation of a business helpdesk (under the aegis of SUAP) entrusted (free of cost) to a chosen group of professionals capable of supporting entrepreneurs not only in the consolidation but also in the internationalization of their businesses. Finally, having created the regional prerequisites (security being naturally a priority), attracting the investment of external capital would be feasible.

With reference to the second point, it would be interesting and innovative to aspire to a much higher level of detail than in the past through the creation of a permanent school of business management (perhaps in a location of symbolic importance, such as on a property confiscated from the Camorra). The courses could target entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, managers (and aspiring managers) of small-medium enterprises (SMEs), and business mentors.

An especially innovative figure (one not provided for by any existing law) is that of the business mentor, which would indicate a significant improvement in the quality of the public-private relationship; this would no longer promote financial flooding (deductions, subsidies, capital grants, etc.) as such, but would entail facilitating the adoption of best business practices. The costs of training the tutors could be covered by the public administration, and likewise (wholly or partly) those of engaging their professional services (perhaps for a specific period of time). In any event, this would create in SMEs a new managerial class at the highest market levels, in contrast to the current situation of a substantial shortage in this regard.”