No slogans, just action. That’s how Fernando Ferioli, the mayor of Finale Emilia in the province of Modena, has faced the reconstruction challenge in one of the areas hit hardest by the earthquakes of 20 and 29 May 2012. “We immediately asked everyone for a helping hand, and received valuable support from all over Italy, from individual citizens, institutions and businesses”.
And it is thanks to one of those businesses, Sacmi Imola – among the first, points out the mayor, to support the reconstruction projects – that Finale will soon have its new Middle School. “This is a future-oriented reconstruction project that is part of a wider town planning scheme including, for example, a cycle path network”. With a surface area of over 3,000 square metres and a volume of 12,000 cubic metres, the new “Frassoni” school complex – built, of course, to resist earthquakes and featuring laboratories, an auditorium and an assembly hall – will be inaugurated by the end of 2013 and will provide a much needed facility for 330 youngsters, currently being schooled in a temporary building (“itself set up in record time thanks to the efforts of the Region of Emilia-Romagna”, underlines Ferioli).
This is a big step forward for the mayor of Finale; every day, he has had to deal with the requests – and shattered hopes – of individual citizens and businesses in the face of a “national politics that, unlike regional institutions or local communities, has often been all but absent”. And what better starting point for rebuilding such hopes than the schools, with Sacmi Imola providing, in the words of Group CEO Domenico Olivieri, “a response to the needs of the community that is fully in keeping with the cooperative heritage that lies at the core of our company.”
The response to the disaster has taken on the tangible form of projects, training and education facilities “that will produce the professionals, customers and managers of tomorrow”, explains Olivieri. It’s no chance occurrence, in fact, that the section of the school complex financed by Sacmi includes the technical labs. “There’s an undeniable logic, points out Olivieri, “that links the needs of this community to our own mission”. And that’s not all: some of Sacmi’s most important customers are located in and around Finale, the very heart of the ceramic district; this has allowed us to respond not only to the needs of the children but also to those of their hard-working parents in what is a remarkably industrious area. Ferioli is quick to note that this is a place “where people immediately reacted by rolling up their shirt sleeves, with some companies opening for business immediately without even (quite literally) a roof over their heads, showing an incredible faith and will to re-invest in their own communities”.
The school project – which has also seen contributions from other key ‘sponsors’ – will be inaugurated by the end of 2013. Finale Emilia, then, is steadily resurfacing. Since that terrible day of 20th May – and the even worse one of 29th May – the ground has continued to tremble: “It’s been a week since the last tremor”, says Ferioli, who came to office just a few weeks before the earthquake struck. “And it’ll take another ten years to get back to where we were. Yet this fantastic community, with its penchant for action and not words, has already won the first vital battles in the fight to get back to normal. The school complex is one of our most important projects and, like all the others, is designed to ensure our community has a future”.