Your CCI presents a particularly dynamic image with all the facility management tasks entrusted to it. How is coordination undertaken with the port, airport and school managers?
Yes, not only do we carry weight in Caen but also in two-thirds of the department of Calvados. We have won calls for tenders alongside
enterprises to obtain management of these facilities. And for good reason: we are competent in this domain. We organise meetings with the managers of each structure. For example, consider our current negotiation on ice production in the port. The Freon gas used is harmful and will be replaced by ammonium in anticipation of new European standards to be applied in 2015. And the Chamber will be taking care of the 2 million euros in expenses incurred. Let’s remember that there are watertight walls between each of the services and that it will be necessary to make the port profitable to recuperate these 2 million euros. We are heirs to the public services.
What are your plans for 2014?
We organised a meeting at the start of our mandate, two years ago, to determine which of the hundred or so projects put forward were the best. We selected sixteen of them. The overriding idea is to decompartmentalise, to build bridges between different economic players. One of the main projects is the development of Paris Seine Normandie (PSN), launched under ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, aiming to develop the first European aeronautics cluster. An association bearing this name PSN, whose logo was launched in June 2013, was created in a collaboration between 8 Chambers of Commerce (including Ile-de-France, Basse-Normandie and Haute-Normandie). Its target is to help the city-world that is Paris to sparkle again in the same way as London, Shanghai and New York. Most of these cities have connections with the sea and the maritime façade of the French capital is located at Le Havre.
We therefore decided, in this context, to follow a mission of developing tourism, namely by setting up cruises on the Seine. The 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2014 will surely help us to increase our visibility.
Apart from development of the PSN, you also wish to develop a cultural foundation “Mécènes Caen Normandie”, on the basis of enterprises financing artistic projects…
Absolutely. The cultural foundation “Mécènes Caen Normandie” assembles 22 enterprises that have committed by signature, for a period of five years, to financing 74 identified cultural projects. The budget they commit to is 700,000 euros over five years. Four shows have already been programmed, including the Vivavoce voice festival.
What about Prodije, the programme for generating a taste for enterprise amongst children and teenagers?
Last year, the programme reached out to 842 pupils, namely 40 classes from Year 6 to the final year of high school, and it is continuing this year. Teachers are trained to transmit entrepreneurial desire and culture to pupils via board games and role plays… We seek to inspire self-confidence, curiosity, organisation, autonomy, teamwork and perseverance. And the young people also go to visit enterprises.
We can’t mention everything, but among your 16 projects for 2014, there is also the creation of a European centre for research and treatment in hadron therapy, namely a radiotherapy method for treating cancer. How do you see this project?
Archade, as the project is called, is to cost 140 million euros. Out of this, the CCI will be contributing over 1 million euros. Out of this, the CCI will be contributing over 1 million euros. Apart from the medical aspect, the project will help support the creation of an industrial stream combining research, training, development and business creation. We are at the prototype phase of the cyclotron (editorial note: particle accelerator). And the provisional date for operation is 2016.
Finally, you give the impression that the cut in government subsidies towards CCIs has not prevented you from helping activity and the economic territory bloom. Could your Chamber be said to be a model for others?
You know, we need to get organised with less money. And don’t forget that today enterprises pay taxes that go towards the CCIs. Of
course there are restrictions. But we need to regain energy, a surge of optimism. And it’s true that there seems to be a lack of this elsewhere…