President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö’s virtual visits to municipalities, which began on Wednesday, continued on Friday, 12 June 2020. This time, remote connections were opened from sunny Kultaranta to Suonenjoki and Seinäjoki.
In Suonenjoki, President Niinistö first had discussions with Chairman of the Town Council Olavi Ruotsalainen, Chairman of the Town Board Kirsi Nuutinen and Mayor Juha Piiroinen. Among the topics discussed were urban vitality and local experiences of the coronavirus situation.
During the spring, no coronavirus infections have been detected in Suonenjoki , but the effects of the virus have been highly visible. Labour supply, for example, has been a talking point in the strawberry town, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
Mayor Piiroinen stated that although entrepreneurs and the vitality of the town have been sources of concern, the town’s organisation has shown its effectiveness. “The economy of our town and region has been in good shape and is developing. Even though we took a hard blow this spring, we have what it takes to handle a setback of this kind,” he said.
President Niinistö stated that Suonenjoki is displaying a very positive attitude and a belief faith in the future, despite the unwelcome experiences of the spring. “What remains at least is the ability to react. This has grown a little in all of us,” he said. On the economy, the President added that the ability to meet the challenge presented by coronavirus shows that attitudes have been on a sound footing in previous years.
During his virtual visit, President Niinistö also met CEO Matti Leinonen and Chairman of the Board Vesa Sorio of Pakkasmarja Ltd, a company owned by berry growers. They briefed the President on current issues for the company, such as the recruitment of domestic and foreign seasonal labour. The company produces and develops berry products from domestic cultivated, forest and organic berries.
At the end of the visit, the town representatives warmly invited the President to make a “live” visit to Suonenjoki. “It was wonderful to visit you. And it would be even better to be there at the strawberry table. Let’s try that some time,” said the President with a smile, wishing the people of Suonenjoki all the best for the future.
For Seinäjoki, the best-ever summer of events – when the time is right
On his virtual visit to Seinäjoki, President Niinistö discussed issues of current interest for the city with Chairman of the City Council Kimmo Heinonen and Mayor Jorma Rasinmäki.
Chairman of the City Council Heinonen told the President that, after a spring overshadowed by coronavirus, Seinäjoki is strongly focused on the future. The intention is to make summer 2021 the best-ever summer of events. “I read somewhere, that it certainly suits the Seinäjoki mentality that everything will be better next year,” President Niinistö observed.
In addition, the President and the city representatives discussed the role of municipalities as service providers in exceptional circumstances as well as the importance of the third sector. Everyone agreed that the municipal sector has managed to adapt quickly to a completely altered situation. “It is, of course, a matter of honour for any governmental unit not to be so fixed on its own course that it can’t change things up when it has to do so,” said the President.
In Seinäjoki, President Niinistö also talked with representatives of the local business community. Leena Perämäki, CEO of Into Seinäjoki Ltd, the City of Seinäjoki’s development company, told President Niinistö about the effects of the coronavirus situation on entrepreneurship and local events. In particular, she praised the adaptability and solution-orientation of local entrepreneurs in the face of the new situation.
Juha Gröhn, CEO of Atria Plc, discussed with President Niinistö the effects of the coronavirus on the meat and food industry. According to Gröhn, the operation of production plants has been their biggest concern. Rapidly changing distribution channels have also required special arrangements from the company. The can-do spirit is high in the company, however, and despite the exceptional spring everyday business is going well.
Let’s look forward
After his virtual visits, President Niinistö commented on the positive aspects of the visits in a media event: “Today, we have continued our provincial tour. This time we travelled on a rather horizontal plane from Suonenjoki to Seinäjoki. And, once again, the message overall has been rather encouraging in both localities. There certainly have been difficulties, and difficulties still remain for which are preparing, but the spirit, however, is good: let’s look forward.”
In addition to Suonenjoki and Seinäjoki, President Niinistö also made virtual visits this week to Taipalsaari and Tampere. The purpose of the visits was to exchange ideas and hear about the local experiences of municipalities of different sizes in adapting to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the present situation and other current issues for municipalities.