Stefan Dallinger: Quality of life and economic potential in the heart of the electoral palatinate

Going from an urban agglomeration to cycling along one of the countless bicycle trails or travelling by public transport to the untouched nature – the grand and rural nature and landscape regions – all within a matter of minutes. Numerous cultural and sporting activities are avail­­able just as is simply leaving all your worries behind. And what can be more enjoyable than winding up the day at one of the countless country pubs, taverns or wine bars.

The romantic Neckar valley, Rheinaue wetlands and lakes, the enchanting Berg­­straße with its medieval castles, the tra­­ditional landscapes of the Kraichgau and Odenwald with their charming villages and hamlets, orchards, wine grow­­ing and cultivation of asparagus or hops – these are all shining examples of the strong character traits of the Rhine-Neckar region with its 54 cities and municipal­ities. The 525,000 inhabitants of the dis­trict and its visitors appreciate this ex­­cellent cultural and family-friendly offer.

At the same time, the silhouettes of suc­cessful industry and service companies characterise the image of Baden-Wuert­­temberg’s most populous district with its excellent transport infrastructure, which has successfully mastered the structural changes in business and so­­ciety taking place in the last third of the 20th century. World-renowned com­­panies such as Freudenberg in Weinheim, SAP in Walldorf, GELITA in Eberbach, Hei­­del­ber­ger Druckmaschinen in Wiesloch, Betty Barclay in Nussloch or Wild in Eppel­­heim all operate from here and underscore the district’s attractiveness of what has be­­come known as the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region with its cross-border net­­work with Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Hei­­delberg and neighbouring Palatinate, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Hessen cities and districts and which is regarded as one of Germany’s most important economic and industrial regions. The strength of the region is the excellent cooperation between local companies and research and administration, which can be meas­­ured, among other things, based on the success of the leading clusters located here. To further expand the economic strengths, the staff unit for Economic Development and Europe proposed an economic development strategy in coop­­eration and coordination with regional and transregional business development partners, cities and municipalities as well as political decision-makers. This group defines the future objectives, areas of activity and measures for the district’s economic development.


Together with the owner-operated municipal enterprise Bau und Vermögen and the AVR GmbH, the district administration, in cooperation with municipalities, has created climate protection guidelines and a climate protection concept, which the municipal council has since passed. According to these guidelines, climate protection in the Rhine-Neckar district is to function by reducing climate-damaging emissions and by using renew­­able energy sources with the goal of devel­­oping energy self-sufficiency for the dis­­trict when it comes to providing electricity and heating to private households. It is furthermore planned to describe spe­­cific measures on the basis of a CO2 footprint and heating atlas, to outline the scale of energy savings potentials and to monitor reaching the objectives with the help of a controlling or evaluation tool. The district is thus on its way to becoming Germany’s first district to implement a comprehensive CO2 footprint at district level.

Together with other fellow campaigners, the Rhine-Neckar district was the driving force behind the expansion of the urban railway system, which links and brings closer together the work, shopping, culture and leisure time offerings in the metropolitan region. With this, the region makes an additional successful contribution to climate protection. Par­ticularly the additional electrification and inclusion of the Elsenztalbahn (Elsenz valley railway) and the Schwarzbach­talbahn (Schwarzbach valley railway) contributes to an even greater and po­­s­­itive economic development in rural re­­gions. It also links the Krebsbachtal­bahn (Krebsbach valley railway) as a highlight for tourism promotion to the transregional railway network.


Der Naturpark Neckartal-Odenwald bietet viele Freizeitmöglichkeiten. © Taefit/

Der Naturpark Neckartal-Odenwald bietet viele Freizeitmöglichkeiten.
© Taefit/

In addition to a region-wide service offer­­ing in the area of medical care with four hospitals, two care facilities, two senior citizen centres and three hospitals for geriatric rehabilitation, the 525,000 in­­habitants in 54 cities and municipalities at the same time can enjoy a wide range of leisure time and recreational options, which all sustainably improve the quality of life. To this end, more than 40 per cent of the district’s area along the Ba­­dische Bergstraße, Kraichgau, Oden­­wald and the Rheinaue wetlands is a nature preserve.


© Taefit/

The offer is rounded out by modern edu­cation facilities including 13 vocational schools, four special schools and two special nursery schools operated by the district. In Decem­ber 2011, the municipal council commissioned the creation of a regional school development programme in order to further develop the district’s vocational schools. The vocational schools are to be prepared for the future together with the cities of Heidelberg and Mann­heim. Nonetheless, the region-wide vo­­cational training system is to remain differentiated and permeable. A con­sen­­sus is to be established between the needs by businesses for qualified trainees for the dual education system on the one hand, which stands in competition with the increasing desire by parents and students for higher school-leaving qualifications on the other hand. It is equally a goal to retain a dual-system schooling which is as close to business and home as possible.

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LR_Foto_aktuell-kopierenBorn in Heidelberg in 1962, the author has been a district administrator for the Rhine-Neckar district since 2010. Mr. Dallinger gained experience in various positions as an administrative lawyer. From 1999 to 2006, he was mayor of Schwetzingen. Most recently he was di­­rector of the Region Rhein-Neckar Re­­gional Association while at the same time being managing director of the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar GmbH.