Regions Need Social Clusters

30 october 2017

"It makes sense to talk about the creation of social clusters in isolated territories where properly organized, transparent, easy-to-understand and accessible to everyone cooperation mechanisms are essential," said Analytical Center expert Inna Karakchieva, speaking at the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation presenting a report titled the Development of Network Cooperation during the Implementation of Projects to Create Sports, Educational and Cultural Clusters.

The expert is of the opinion that the development of network cooperation within a social cluster determines not only success but also new potential for the development of the territory. The variety of participants in a network ensures effective use of resources, expands the potential amount of resources involved and provides additional effects (both monetary and non-monetary).

At the same time Ms. Karakchieva drew the audience's attention to the fact that a social cluster can only be viable only if created in response to real social demand. The construction of a new infrastructure facility without taking into account the interests, the capabilities of the individual residents generally does not yield the intended results. Simply moving cluster infrastructure by fiat neither produce the effects that are generated with the support of the local communities, the involvement of people living in the territory, nor does this approach ensure renovation of territories.

The expert is convinced that in addition to sports, educational and cultural elements, social clusters should also include R&D and industrial elements. And when it comes to attracting private investments in construction and purchasing of equipment, it's important to have a single informational platform for interaction with public authorities. This interaction needs to get a quality assessment system.

The most developed forms of network cooperation in our country are charity and social partnership, and then there is public-private partnership, which is growing slowly but surely. "Within each form there is a variety of types of cooperation but we have only one and occasionally two well developed ones," Ms. Karachieva said. "Expanding the number of network cooperation models will open up new opportunities but it will also require development of new legislation and regulations."

The expert also noted the problem of underdevelopment of smart systems, which leads to the operating costs for sporting and educational facilities. In the evenings sporting and educational facilities could be used to offer sports and educational programs for adults or they could be leased by local universities and colleges that don't have enough auditoriums or gyms, for example. These spaces could be leased in the off-hours for various public events such as association meetings, clubs and organizations, political parties etc. These options could be possible if appropriate changes were made to the relevant legislation governing participation of non-government organizations in rendering of social services.

However, the first step must be an assessment of the existing infrastructure. To that end it would make sense to create a federal or regional registry of social infrastructure facilities with a list of services and other exhaustive information about each one of them.

 Photo: From open sources