Rotterdam is a city of many parts. Adjacent to the Central District Association is the Rotterdam Centrum – Business Investment Zone (BIZ), with a full-time four-person team appointed to manage activity in this core retail district, each with their own portfolio. This past summer, the organization welcomed Pauline Buurma as its new director, a woman passionately committed to the city centre and to the hands-on, can-do mentality of its citizens.
PAULINE, HOW DID YOU END UP IN THIS ROLE?
“I wanted to get into politics to work on social engagement. I started as a district councilor for Amsterdam-Zuid. After that I spent eight years working as a municipal councilor, with a focus on construction and housing. After that period, I was approached by a property owner to mediate in the local problems arising from the construction of the Noord-Zuid metro line. From there I wound up joining several retailers’ and real estate owners’ associations in the City Centre. I did that work for nearly twelve years, and then I saw this interesting job come up in Rotterdam Centre.’’
HOW WAS IT TO MAKE THE LEAP FROM AMSTERDAM TO ROTTERDAM?
“Rotterdam has been working hard for some years to carve out a place on the map. It was easier and faster in many cases to get things done here, compared to Amsterdam, which of course I noticed straightaway. The need to stem the tide of visitors to the capital was hampering my work there. The job for Rotterdam-Centrum felt like a tailor-made opportunity, because I can use all my skills to bring this BIZ to a next level. Rotterdam was one of the first cities to have such a large BIZ. We have a good budget to cover a sizeable area, in which we work with a team of four people, each with their own focus area.”
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT? AND WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY?
“People in Rotterdam are very proud of what they’ve accomplished in the past few years, and the whole dynamic is astounding. It is a very vibrant city and of course I hope to add to that. We are currently working on greening the district with flowers and plants. We’re also creating space for new concepts. On Korte Lijnbaan the focus is especially on promoting a more diverse offering to attract different publics. I am really enjoying the project we’re working on with property owners, real estate agents and the municipality to create a corridor running from Schouwburgplein through Korte Lijnbaan to Stadhuisplein. Next year, I have to set out a roadmap for the next five years, so that will be a nice challenge.”
IN WHAT WAY CAN ROTTERDAM CENTRAL DISTRICT AND ROTTERDAM CENTRUM STRENGTHEN EACH OTHER?
“We are both distinctive and complimentary. RCD has offices, but also the creative hub in District East. That’s really a cool area that attracts a totally different group of people. We are trying to create cohesion through planting, with Weena playing a more connective role between the two urban districts. Beyond that, there are various topics on which we overlap, like mobility and accessibility.”