NEWS

Volos transforming from industrial center

Kathimerini VOLOS – Transition from an industrial past to a new age of development centered on the service industry is the catchphrase in this capital of the prefecture of Magnesia, on the shores of the Pagasitic Gulf. A lively town where old factories are being restored as a reminder of its past, Volos is a town worth visiting as it emerges from the 1990s, when it was recovering from the de-industrialization and the ensuing rampant unemployment. «The challenge was to take what was an industrial town into the post-industrial age,» said Volos Technical University rector Zisis Kotionis. «There has been development in research and education; the university was a boost to the tertiary sector of services,» he added. However, wages are still not very high. «Many who graduate here can’t find jobs and leave to relocate to Athens,» said Dimitris Poulios, an architecture student. Volos’s present development is focusing on tourism, not only as the gateway to Mount Pelion, but as an urban center with many exhibition areas and imposing buildings. «The municipality is planning to restage the Argonaut campaign,» said Mayor Alekos Voulgaris. The wooden seacraft Argo is ready to take on board its modern Argonauts on June 7. The municipality is also setting up a theme park and museum. The tourism industry may however leave a heavy footprint on the environment if no boundaries are set. Mount Pelion is already scarred with discarded concrete from the housing boom and the holiday-home trade. «The 2013 Mediterranean Games will be a great opportunity for us,» said Voulgaris. «Among other things, a new Mediterranean Village will be built. The sporting venues have been ready since the Olympics.» Apart from the stadiums, however, the 2004 Olympiad did not leave much infrastructure, as evidenced by the still unfinished ring road. What is important, however, is that Volos is a town that people choose to live in. «I came here seven or eight years ago to work at the university. I don’t regret it, on the contrary,» said Kotionis. «The quality of life is better than in Athens, there is more and better free public space, easy access to the mountains or the sea and we have all the services we need,» he added. Not everything is rosy. There is a strong sense that the transition to the new age lacks direction. «The authorities do not have a vision,» said one youth. Young people’s dreams might be nebulous, but they exist.