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The spirit of greater Stavanger

The Greater Stavanger region has always looked to the sea, a gateway to the world. Some say that Norway’s history actually began here, with the first settlers arriving in small boats when the last ice age ended 10,000 years ago. Now, as one of the largest and most important business and residential regions in Norway, the region has nearly 300,000 inhabitants working in a wide spectrum of careers. With plentiful natural resources, successful companies and dynamic infrastructure; the talented, experienced and friendly people enjoy the high quality of life and career opportunities here in Greater Stavanger.

 Greater Stavanger is Norway’s 3rd largest urban area, the energy capital of Norway, and a European cultural capital in 2008. Cooperation between the business, civic, and service sectors of this community ensures that the people of the region will enjoy continued economic growth and prosperity in the future. Central in this process is the organization Greater Stavanger Economic Development. This organization is a non-profit regional development agency owned by 16 municipalities and Rogaland County, working closely with the regions’ political and administrative leaders, the private business sector and academia to make Greater Stavanger the ideal environment for business growth.

Accessible & Modern
Accessible and modern, connected by modern roads and railways, the main city of Stavanger is the centre of this region, a region with a long tradition of using its fertile soil to produce the best in meats, fruit and vegetables. From pristine beaches along the North Sea to the fjords; from the rolling hillsides to the majestic mountains; from the cities to rural areas; life quality is excellent here - with everything surrounded by some of the most amazing nature found anywhere. Natural wonders such as the Pulpit Rock, Swords in Stone, and the Cathedral complement other attractions such as the Utstein Monastery, the Oil Museum, the Botanical Gardens and the stone-age cave at Viste in making the Stavanger region as truly unique place to build a career, start a family, or just visit.

Since the discovery of North Sea oil four decades ago, Stavanger has built its reputation as Norway’s oil and energy capital – a wealthy, international city with a modern outlook. Forty years on, the energy industries are still going strong, but now the Stavanger region is also attracting international attention for a whole array of different industries, both old and new. The money is following. Over the past decade, a number of leading finance companies have based themselves in Stavanger to create the second largest fund management community after Oslo, amassing billions of Norwegian crowns committed towards seed and venture capital.

Bocuse d’Or showcases Stavanger’s reputation as a food capital at the 2008 competition.
© Tom Haga
The Oil Museum encapsulates an important part of the Stavanger region’s reputation as an energy capital.
© S. Sigbjørnsen/SrN/RS/SVG2008

The Energy Adventure
No story about the Stavanger region could be complete without the telling of its role in Norway’s oil adventure that began in 1969 with the discovery of oil in the southern North Sea field Ekofisk. Since then, the town has developed into Norway’s undisputed petroleum capital, with 45,000 people being employed within this sector. This number represents approximately 20% of the workforce in Rogaland County – and equally impressive, accounting for nearly 50% of all employed in petroleum activities here in the country.

The energy world knows the important role that Greater Stavanger plays in the global industry, represented by leading petroleum companies such as Exxon Mobil and BP and others representing the increasingly international energy sector. Nationally, StatoilHydro, the Norwegian oil giant based in Stavanger, is one of the main employers in the region. Home to 280 oil service companies working in all parts of the exploration and production value chain, the story doesn’t end there. Nearly 50 energy companies are working with various aspects of energy in order to provide a bright sustainable future in the Greater Stavanger region and beyond.

Stavanger is also home to many petroleum-related organizations, such as the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the Petroleum Safety Authority; the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF); and Petoro, which serves as the licensee for the state’s direct financial interest (SDFI) in Norwegian petroleum operations. Academic institutions like the University of Stavanger, International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS) and the newly created Centre for Sustainable Energy ensure that in the future Stavanger will be known not just for its petroleum riches, and for its ability to exploit full range of energy resources found in the Greater Stavanger region.

Culture & Quality
Still, the region is certainly much more than successful business activities; it is a centre of creativity, culinary arts, and culture. In 2008, the region was awarded the ultimate recognition for its burgeoning cultural industries: designation by the European Union as a European Capital of Culture, beginning a year-long extravaganza of music, art, dance, sculpture, literature, drama and more. All told, more than a million spectators took part in over 1,100 events.

That type of success only reinforces the cultural diversity that Stavanger “The Festival City” has to offer, with a range of cultural opportunities, festivals and event that has enhanced the standard of living in the Stavanger region for years. The list is long of cultural experiences to be realized in Greater Stavanger, including such highlights as the Happy Food Festival (www.gladmat.no),Haugesund Teater (www.haugesund-teater.no),Chamber Music Festival (www.icmf.no), MaiJazz(www.maijazz.no), Sandnes Culture House (www.sandnes-kulturhus.no), Sola Culture House (www.sola-kulturhus.no) and the Stavanger Concert Hall (www.stavanger-konserthus.no).

StatoilHydro, the Norwegian oil giant, is based in Stavanger, and is one of the main employers in the region.
© Øyvind Hagen/StatoilHydro
In 2008, Stavanger was designated by the European Union as a European Capital of Culture.
© Kjetil Alsvik

Culinary & Business Success
The Greater Stavanger region is often referred to as the Norwegian answer to the French region of Lyon, famous for its culinary creativity. This culinary expertise is truly representative of the food cluster here in the region, with production of both raw materials and food products being a major industry, second only to energy as the top employer in this dynamic region. To cite an example, the production of tomatoes is impressive, with the Rogaland region producing an astounding 80% of the total Norwegian production of the vegetable.

In 2008 Rogaland County announced that it had been invited to become part of Délice – the network of worldwide good food cities. This invitation coincided perfectly with Culinary Stavanger 08, the international cuisine event that featured Bocuse d’Or Europe as the main course. The goal of Délice is to nurture an international culinary culture, fine dining and professional exchange between member cities that include Barcelona, Birmingham, Brussels, Guangzhou, Genoa, Gothenburg, Lausanne, Leipzig, Lyon, Madrid, Milan, Montreal, Riga, St. Louis – and of course, Rogaland County.

With a mild climate, fertile soil, and a population that has traditionally thrived on its international connection, the food industry here covers the entire chain of activities from primary production to processing companies, distributors, restaurants and shops. The Greater Stavanger region – and especially Jæren – makes its mark as the country’s major producer of meat and milk products and vegetables. Approximately 25% of meat production in Norway comes from region, and in looking to the future, there are over two dozen companies and organization working with R&D activities related to food production.

Dancing in front of Stavanger’s historic cathedral, as Stavanger 2008 gets in full flow.
© Elisabeth Tønnesen

In Tune with the Sea – & the World
Historically in tune with the sea, the Norwegian fishing and aquaculture industry is well-represented in the region, including the internationally-known Marine Harvest. Rogaland is the leading county in Norway when it comes to farming of shellfish, all this combining well with the excellent logistic infrastructure offered that transports seafood as well as other products grown and manufactured here in the region to other parts of Norway and beyond.

This dynamic environment attracts knowledge and Stavanger has one of the best educated populations in Norway, the country with the highest rates of literacy and adult education in the world. The region also understands the necessity of the top quality higher education as well as an active research and development environment. These respected institutions include the International Research Institute of Stavanger, the National Centre of Industrial Gastronomy (Måltidets Hus), the University of Stavanger, the newly created Research Centre on Sustainable Energy, and a range of others.

Towards the Bright Future
The resources here in Greater Stavanger are impressive, in place to assist residents and newcomers, including such support as INN (see separate article), in place to assist families and individuals coming to the region. These activities are in place to support the vision of the region – a focuse on the ongoing emphasis on the food and energy sectors in additional to the long-term commitment to knowledge, innovation, internationalization, quality of life, infrastructure and public services. In addition, a cooperative effort is in the works between INN and Greater Stavanger – a Business Center that will suit the professional needs of visitors to the region.

According to Elin Schanche, Managing Director of Greater Stavanger Economic Development, “One of the keys to success of the Greater Stavanger Region has been its abililty to work together towards common goals in order to make Stavanger an attractive choice for companies and individuals who would like to settle in this area. Working closely with the sixteen Greater Stavanger municipalities as well as Rogaland Country, our ultimate goal is that our activities will be felt within literally every business sector, and of course in the quality of life here in the Greater Stavanger Region.”

Elin Schanche, Managing Director of Greater Stavanger Economic Development.
© Greater Stavanger
The talented, experienced and friendly people of Stavanger enjoy a high quality of life and plenteous career opportunities.
© S. Sigbjørnsen/SrN/RS/SVG2008

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