The immediate program “Future. Downtown. North Rhine-Westphalia."

More STEM in the center: Last year, the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry for Homeland, Municipal Affairs, Building and Equal Opportunities initiated the “Future. Downtown. North Rhine-Westphalia.” The aim of the program is to strengthen the state-wide inner cities and centers and to prevent corona-related vacancies. The funding measure is now being extended, which once again offers MINT actors the opportunity to implement creative concepts in a central location. The zdi network MINT.REgio has already ventured into downtown Recklinghausen.

Vacant shops, permanently closed restaurants and unlet properties - the corona pandemic is severely affecting the inner cities and centers in North Rhine-Westphalia. The city and village centers are not just shopping and promenades. They are meeting places for residents, tourist magnets and cultural assets. In order to counteract the neglect of inner cities and centres, the Ministry for Homeland, Municipal Affairs, Building and Equal Opportunities in North Rhine-Westphalia has launched the “Future. Downtown. North Rhine-Westphalia.” was launched. There is a total of 70 million euros in the pot - 40 million have already been distributed in 2020. The remaining 30 million should flow by the end of April. Although the funding program is explicitly aimed at municipalities, MINT actors as well as the zdi networks and student laboratories can benefit from it. 

More STEM educational opportunities in inner cities and centers

Extended premises offer the opportunity for more MINT offers, the implementation of new creative concepts in the MINT landscape as well as an attractive location in central urban areas where a high level of attention and publicity can be expected due to a lot of public traffic. The first of four so-called fields of intervention is of interest to MINT actors: “The temporary renting of vacant shop premises by the municipalities to establish new uses within the framework of a contingency fund is intended to counteract small-scale vacancies.” The establishment of laboratory or experimental rooms would be conceivable here, for example . That too Phenomexx concept, the implementation of which often fails due to a lack of suitable premises, could be realized in the empty shops. The subsidy rate is a maximum of 90%, with the municipal share amounting to 10%. Eligible for funding are, among other things, the expenses for renting vacant shop premises with a rental area of ​​up to 300 square meters and for a period of up to two years. As a possible new use, "educational offers and childcare" are explicitly mentioned in the guideline for the "disposal fund rental". A zdi network has already ventured into downtown Recklinghausen and is looking forward to opening soon.

The zdi network MINT.REgio brings MINT to downtown Recklinghausen

Municipalities can submit applications for funding for the “Immediate Program Downtown 2020” to the responsible district government. application deadline was the 30 April 2021

Strolling in the historic old town or pursuing your shopping cravings on Breite Straße - the city center of Recklinghausen has a lot to offer both residents and tourists. Now another highlight follows, because work is currently in full swing towards the opening of the first inner-city zdi school laboratory, the "MINT.city-lab". The MINT.city-lab is affiliated with the zdi network MINT.REgio, which has been offering MINT programs for children and young people in the Recklinghausen district for more than ten years. The zdi network MINT.REgio, together with the Recklinghausen Economic Development Agency, was able to secure a share of the funding pot.

Now the concept of the "MINT.city-lab" is being put into practice: "A meeting and experimentation room is currently being created here on an area of ​​almost 150 square meters, which - taking into account the development of the pandemic - will be filled with life from spring", says Markus Real, head of the zdi network MINT.REgio. “Courses and working groups, publicly accessible lectures on MINT and sustainability topics and much more are planned. We are very much looking forward to exciting encounters in the middle of downtown Recklinghausen and new impulses for the coming years!” The premises of the MINT.city-lab are currently being equipped and the opening is scheduled for February 2021.

A central location of a zdi school laboratory offers many advantages. It is easy to reach by public transport and a good advertising opportunity to draw the attention of a new audience to the networking and the zdi.NRW community offensive. It remains to be wished that in 2021 further MINT offers will find their way into the inner cities and centers.

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