The Local reported in May how the town of Sorsele, population 2,800, was hoping to reverse decades of depopulation by tempting young, highly-qualified Russians to move in.
Two months later, the initiative has been a success – 700 Russians have expressed interest after widespread media attention in Russia. The Local received dozens of emails from Russians looking for contact details for the Sorsele authorities.
“There has been a huge interest in our initiative in Russia. It’s even been reported on Russian television,” said council leader Göran Wikström.
Much of the municipality’s focus has been on attracting immigration from Sorsele’s twin town Apatity, on the Kola Peninsula in northern Russia, which borders with Finland and Norway. Municipal leaders believe that people from Apatity will adapt well to life in Sorsele, as both towns are remote and have similar climates.
The council now plans another trip to the Kola Peninsula, after which they will discuss their plans with the Swedish Board of Migration. If all goes to plan, the first Russians will move in late 2011 or 2012.
Without migrant labour, Sorsele will face a shortage of qualified workers, particularly in the public sector. Around 35 percent of the council’s employees are expected to retire in the next 10 years.