MP talk

Jani Toivola is the first Finnish Member of Parliament with African roots. He is the chair of the Finnish All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development and the 2nd vice chair of the Green Parliamentary Group. Before entering politics, he became known as an actor and entrepreneur.THE HELSINKI CITY COUNCIL has recently been debating how best to put the city’s vacant premises to good use. Johanna Sumuvuori submitted a proposal to the council, suggesting that the city should draw up a plan for increasing the temporary use of its empty premises and advertise them to potential users.

Councillor Kimmo Helistö proposed that if the city is unable to sell or rent an empty location within a reasonable time limit (6 to 12 months), an uncommercial, non-profit or cultural organisation should be selected as a tenant based on the best offer.

Having the city’s premises in full-time use is an excellent way of bringing urban culture to life and supporting actors of various fields while fostering the whole society’s goal of building a city that is lively, participatory and reflects its residents’ characteristics.

The centres could give immigrants the focus they need in their new home country, helping create friendships and build networks with the Finnish working life.

The possible use for the vacant premises that springs to mind unbidden is the promotion of free-time activities, with the possibility of offering the premises to artists of different fields being a viable option. The premises could also serve as business spaces for seasonal entrepreneurs or start-ups wanting to test their business ideas. The city could have an entire network of support services built in connection with the premises, aiming to lower the threshold for setting up a new business for example by making it possible to rent a business space in a good location without having to pay a prohibitive deposit. This would give rise to unique boutiques and a wider range of services in different districts, in a way that is familiar from other European cities.


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