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Finance, business, territory: the role of Italian banking foundations

  • Terni
  • 18 March 2024

        Italian banking foundations provide a virtuous model that is studied around the world. These private institutions, subsidiaries of both community and public bodies, have the significant capacity to support social, cultural and economic development. Their role is particularly incisive at this complex moment in history, especially as regards the response to de-industrialization.

        Indeed, precisely thanks to the advantages their private governance offers to a country marked by a highly complex public sector management, these foundations can be key to promoting the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the areas in which they are active. The experience of the province of Terni offers an example to observe carefully, not least as a result of the interventions by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Terni e Nardi (Carit), the local banking foundation. 

        At 150 years from the birth of the Terni steel works – one of the most important plants in Europe at the time – the challenge today for this area historically devoted to heavy industry is to address what are obvious economic and social fragilities. These vulnerabilities emerge not only in employment data analyses but even more clearly in low productivity rates per worker, which eventually impacts salaries, incomes and average wealth.  These obstacles to steering productive activities toward innovative sectors is leading to the exodus of young people, particularly college graduates; an aspect that meshes with another local fragility – demographic decline – shared, moreover, with many other parts of the country. 

        The Fondazione Carit has maintained a social commitment in this framework, starting with healthcare, not only in the interests of social equality but also from the standpoint of improving services and facilitating the attraction of talent and investments. This vital engagement on behalf of social welfare has been flanked by targeted efforts to promote and strengthen economic diversification.

        Major undertakings have focused on the training of young people, in addition to the arts and culture, all of which fields recall the particular dedication of Vice President of the Foundation Ulrico Dragoni. Significant efforts have involved cultural tourism, a new economic development source complementary to other productive sectors, as well as a driver in the attraction of human capital, especially those local, highly trained professionals who have relocated for work.

        The foundation has also played a significant role in supporting the local industrial culture, and is, moreover, a center for collaboration with the business community, thanks to a dialogue capable of optimizing local skills with the aim of encouraging new settlements. Indeed, as independent entities, foundations are especially suited to encouraging system development, uniting human, cultural and financial resources for the purposes of local development. Their nature as investors with public aims, and their consequent capacity for the rapid completion of projects and infrastructures at the service of the public interest, makes these actors especially suited to broad-based projects and capable of envisioning and realizing the future of a local territory. 

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