Close to nature and culture
Home to 134,000 residents, it is conveniently very near to Frankfurt and easy to get to via a number of motorways close to each other and a dense public transport system. Frankfurt airport, which is 15 kilometers away, takes just 28 minutes to get to by S-Bahn (a suburban train).
Offenbach isn’t just attractive as a location for international exhibitions and other events, but also as a leisure city with a high recreational value. Situated directly on the south bank of the Main River, it is an excellent starting point for bicycle tours to Frankfurt or towards the southeast. The idyllic award-winning Main Bike Path runs from the city centre to Rumpenheim Castle, which boasts a landscaped English garden that kings once frequented. The Lili and Büsing parks in the middle of Offenbach, which Goethe is said to have enjoyed as early as 1775 in the same place, are also ideal for a romantic stroll. In addition, those visiting the city centre will discover other historic structures such as Isenburg Castle, which is classed as a notable building from the Renaissance and used by the famous Offenbach University of Art and Design today. Büsing Palace is an impressive Neo-baroque “city palace”.
It is estimated that one half of the population has a migrant background. This group comprises:
• Those who do not have German citizenship
• Those whose birthplace is outside of the current German borders and who immigrated after 1949
• Those who have at least one parent that was born outside Germany’s current borders and immigrated after 1949.
The city’s initiative
The high percentage of immigrants in Offenbach simultaneously enriches life in the city and presents it with a challenge. As a result, the city’s politics has been committed to an active integration policy for many years. Among other measures, in 1997 a specialist department was formed within the city council in order to foster and organise integration and cultural cooperation, and moderate in cases of conflict. In 2006 this specialist department was merged with the city’s Department of Social Development and Integration. Ever since then, the tasks have become more diverse, new projects have been added and new networks and initiatives formed.
For example the project ‘Neighbourhood Integration’ operates close to housing and based on city districts. In order to improve the integration of immigrants in the city’s districts, new initiatives are being started with established initiatives and activities incorporated and interlinked. The range of new offers extends from parent and toddler groups in the district offices, social counselling for migrants, educational activities, measures for the promotion of vibrant neighbourhoods of multicultural residents, through to various cultural projects.
Contact partners on site: district offices with neighbourhood management
In all parts of the city, figures from the fields of labour market, social, youth and education policy, as well as town planning and business development, are working hand in hand to ensure that people can feel at home in their immediate surroundings, and discover and take advantage of schemes and activities on offer. The public utility company “Stadtwerke Offenbach Holding (SOH)” is also involved, for example with its initiative “Better living in Offenbach” and its subsidiaries, as well as a range of other institutions, independent organisations and initiatives.
Besides shopping facilities, playgrounds, nurseries and schools, well looked after relaxation areas within the urban environment and safe roads, a further important requirement for high living quality in the districts is to have good neighbourhood relations amongst the people living and working there. There are now district offices with neighbourhood management systems in three boroughs: Nordend, Mathildenviertel and Lauterborn, each of which serves as a meeting point, a place for exchange and a location for activities within the district. The employees of the neighbourhood management systems in this respect function as contacts for questions about all aspects of life in the district: they mediate in conflicts, help with problems, advise and support activities for the district.
The idea behind this is to bring people together and to strengthen their feeling of belonging, so that they can identify with their neighbourhood and surroundings and get involved with collective civil society. This is the only way in which a living space can be developed which shapes Offenbach’s characteristic image of its residents’ multicultural diversity and gives people a home regardless of nationality and background. Everyone is invited to join in here!
From the beginnings to the present day
Offenbach began its first neighbourhood management scheme as early as 2002 as a pilot project in the eastern part of the city centre. With funds from the federal and state-run “Socially Integrative City” programme, the focus lay on improving the city’s residential planning environment in densely populated districts with apartments of poor structural quality and low quality of living.
Since then much valuable experience has been gained. Not only has the district office become established as a meeting point, contributing to a noticeably better atmosphere in the whole district and making it attractive for younger people. The former working class area has also re-emerged as a place for young, creative businesses and has helped provide new employment. The new business centre ostpol° offers offices and studios for start-up businesses, and the “Gemeinnützige Baugesellschaft Offenbach (GBO)” has created living space for students. The restoration of old structures is gradually improving the cityscape, and especially since its renaming as the "Mathildenviertel", a breath of fresh air has been blowing through the eastern city centre.
Together with the people and with others who are interested in urban development, the district-wide neighbourhood management programme also aims to help the districts of Nordend and Lauterborn become success stories.