Given the serial failure in recent decades of policies enacted in France (by both Right and Left) to counter unemployment and revive economic activity, a number of actors and parts of the country have set about developing projects on their own initiative and on their own local scale. These are what are known as “bottom-up initiatives”, attempting to stimulate new thinking or activities from the grassroots. It is the role of the “Makers of the Future” column in Futuribles to present these kinds of initiatives and hence encourage citizens to be proactive in economic and social matters.
In this issue, Marthe de La Taille-Rivero has chosen to present the story and current activities of Pôle Archer, an economic development hub established in the Drôme department of South-Eastern France. Though initially built on what remained of an economically devastated shoe industry, the hub has pulled in actors from very different sectors to revive local economic activity. Pôle Archer was, then, one of the first French horizontal — rather than vertical — competitiveness hubs, being linked to a geographical area and not to a particular sector of excellence. The experiment has since spread, with the establishment of PTCEs — territorial clusters of economic cooperation. Given its encouraging prospects, Pôle Archer provides further evidence of the desirability of such bottom-up projects, which often owe their success to the motivation of their developers and, in many cases, turn out to have long-term viability. This is also what Marthe de La Taille-Rivero shows in the appendix to this article, where she goes back over several of the initiatives that have been described here since this particular column was launched. Most of these have held up and seen their activities expand, a sign that they were genuinely the work of “Makers of the Future”.