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Gogolin, Opole, Poland

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Gogolin is an urban-rural municipality. It consists of the core city Gogolin and nine villages with a collective population of 12,463. It is located about 200 m above sea level between the Silesian valley and the Silesian mountainous area. The municipality has good transport connections to the large cities Opole (29 km), Katovice (92 km) and Wrocław (111 km).

There are 2,559 employees in Gogolin, mostly in the fields of manufacturing, construction and service. About a quarter of the population works in foreign countries, mainly in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. Others commute between neighboring cities. There is a growing tendency of people born in Gogolin who return to their home after a life of work in foreign countries. In regional comparison, the unemployment rate is very low: while Poland and the Voivodship Opole have an unemployment rate of about 13 percent, only some four percent of Gogolin’s population is unemployed. The municipality’s economy is characterized by the limestone industry, as Europe’s largest cement works are located there. Taxes from the limestone industry and other fields result in financial sufficiency.

The reconstruction of the sanctuarium in the village Kamień Śląski in 1994 was an important trigger for village renewal. This magnificent castle was birthplace to Saint Hyacinth in the 12th century and was destroyed be the Red Army in the 1970s. With support from a German-Polish foundation it was possible to perform a complex reconstruction. The redevelopment of this important pilgrimage site became motivation to improve the appearance of all public spaces within the municipality.

The collaboration between the population and the administration of the municipality works extraordinarily well: The townsfolk’s initiative is just as remarkable as the management’s commitment. The municipality provides a great environment for the implementation of projects in the villages. It provides either financial support or assists in finding helpful experts. Additionally, it motivates the people of all villages through an annual competition for the best village within the municipality.

Although the migratory pressure is high and the demographic change involves copious challenges, the municipality succeeds to remain attractive for young families. Thus, the number of inhabitants remains stable. Young people, for example, are offered building grounds or apartments at attractive prices. Young families with newborns receive special financial support. Out of their own initiative, the inhabitants established an association that manages the schools and kindergartens.  Thereby, the clos-ing of these important child care and educational facilities was avoided. Additionally, the needs of senior citizens are taken into account.

The municipality is devoted to maintain the appearance and the cultural traditions of the individual villages. One can gener-ally speak of an outstanding development process, which massively improved the quality of living in Gogolin.

Therefore, Gogolin was awarded a European Village Renewal Award for sustainable, holistic and motto-adequate village development of excellent quality.