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City of humane growth – business stories

We have a unique Jyväskylä spirit among companies in Jyväskylä: a culture that strengthens humanity, equality, trust and the balance between work and everyday life. These values are the foundation for the humane growth of many companies and the well-being of people.

What does a city of humane growth mean in practice?

Seven entrepreneurs or business leaders from Jyväskylä answer this question. Topics include emerging values, nature, creativity, support networks, appreciation, resource wisdom and networking.

Maria Jalkanen - Foodin

‘Lasse and I have roots in Jyväskylä. It is important to us that we develop our home region and provide jobs for the people who live here. Jyväskylä is a city I always talk about with pride.

Even though our company has grown every year, our operations are still guided by the same value promise as eight years ago: every product must do good for the user, the environment and the farmer. If a product is not created according to our values, then the time is not yet right for it. Sometimes we do things more slowly or on a smaller scale.

Values build our path, on which we move forward at the pace that is right for us. It is not the quickest or easiest way. But it is a path that brings meaning to our own life and business.’

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HP Siefen 1000

Hans-Peter Siefen - Nordic Business Forum

‘For me, a city of humane growth means an opportunity to live close to nature and especially water. I swim in the lake every day, summer and winter. I also began this morning with ice swimming. The body gets going at full force and the mind is instantly refreshed.

In the summer, my family and I spend a lot of time boating. Päijänne is one of the finest lakes in the world. There is less traffic on the waterways here, so it is easier to calm down and let go of work than anywhere else. Two special places for our family are the Päijänne Nature Reserve around the Padasjoki River and this area around the north of Päijänne.

Jyväskylä is a compact city. Life here is efficient and easy, given moving between places does not take much time. Most of our employees also live here. Talented and ambitious people are constantly graduating from the university and the university of applied sciences. Jyväskylä is also a good place for the company to grow.’

Mikko Mäkelä – Hiisi

‘We are characterised by experimentation, creative madness and wild ideas. There is no reason to deny ourselves any silly ideas, instead we feed them. Growth is generated by experimentation. We want to highlight just how diverse beer can be.

Jyväskylä offers a good environment for creativity and cooperation. There are a lot of like-minded small and new companies in the area. We have made beer using milk quark, domestically grown habaneros, cinnamon buns and wormwood, for example. The mash has been used to bake muffins and archipelago bread, and it has been used as bait for roach and to ease the stomach problems of horses. Most of our mash goes to the biogas plant as raw material, where we also refuel the brewery van.

In microbrewery operations, everyday life undoubtedly involves a lot of cleaning, but we also have time for playing with the wide range of flavours of beer and developing new concepts. Growth comes from daily creativity and ideas that we have just started to implement. So far, we have yet to exhaust our pool of ideas.’

Mikko Makela-1
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José Ayala – Savutuvan Apaja

‘I ended up as an exchange student in Finland – in Leppävirta – a bit by accident. There are good opportunities for education in Finland, so I returned after a couple of years. I got to study in Jyväskylä, started a family and now I have two companies here.

Entrepreneurship sometimes requires the help of experts and a network. Everywhere I’ve been, I have always been met with a genuine desire to help. For example, people at the ELY Centre, Finnvera and Business Finland are really friendly and highly qualified. My ideas have never been dismissed, but I have always been advised on what needs to be refined in the plan or what is still missing. I feel that in Jyväskylä, people have time to get acquainted with things and stop to listen to the needs and thoughts of the entrepreneur.

When we bought the Savutuvan Apaja business, the process was laborious and took several years. However, it was great to see how the mayor and deputy mayor at the time used their time to help and were genuinely looking for solutions to close the deal.

Here, it is easy to approach anyone and anything. Jyväskylä is really a people-sized city.’

Kirsi Neuvonen – kuvataiteilija

‘The most important thing for me in Jyväskylä has been to experience appreciation. I remember when I arrived here as a young artist in 1984, and the municipal leaders came to welcome me at the prints workshop. No young artists had come to the city for a long time, so it was appreciated. Over the decades, I’ve had support and appreciation from many directions.

The artist’s work is a public profession and strongly societal. I don’t make art for myself, I make art for the people. Getting feedback from customers is important. On Fridays at my Pajagalleria gallery I have the opportunity to talk to customers, and people tell me what kind of moment or location the work will be purchased for. These stories give meaning to my work.

I have studied for special vocational qualifications in entrepreneurship and management. For me, the big realisation was that entrepreneurship does not change me as an artist, and instead I can fit entrepreneurship into my professional identity. For me, human growth also means scalability of the business: I can define the size class that suits my life situation and coping. It has been possible here in Jyväskylä.’

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Raimo Tittonen

Raimo Tittonen – 1000 Lakes Distillery

‘A unique, good story in our field is a competitive advantage. And that's what we have. At the estate of the founder of Jyväskylä, we make the best vodka in the world from pure Finnish water.

It is important for us to use resources wisely and reduce our carbon footprint. We purchase all the raw materials we can nearby. We use hemp and willow from a neighbouring farm to make gin. The whisky side streams are distilled into vodka. Nothing is wasted; we utilise everything. Mash is an excellent soil improver for growing hemp and tomatoes, for example. A new thermal power plant is already under construction, and the next step will be investing in solar energy.

Over the years, I've learned that it's not always a good idea to run at full speed. Sometimes you can back up, turn around, or even stop. In Jyväskylä, everything is close and help is available. People here have the expertise and they use it. When you give something, you get it back manifold. At this age, the only thing that matters is that you keep doing things.’

Markus Laurio – Paytrail

‘I have lived most of my life, over 40 years, in Jyväskylä. Over such a long period of time, I have developed a very large network.

I believe that the residents of Jyväskylä are characterised by cooperation and networking. People come here first to study and then to work with each other. You don’t have to be a member of a powerful family to get in touch with the mayor or other key people. Low-threshold networking is a very important part of our culture. It creates the feeling of being heard and having the opportunity to influence things.

Jyväskylä has a unique sense of community and a willingness to take responsibility for the region and this city. We have an excellent startup culture – companies are founded and helped to move forward. Those who have the opportunity will invest in the area’s businesses or take care of the city’s historical valuable properties. The work of the Kauko Sorjonen Foundation is now being continued by a new generation of people.’

Markus Laurio nelio

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