State of health of artisan businesses: critical issues and opportunities on the table of discussion with the institutions in the Craft Forum


By John

An important opportunity for discussion between the world of craftsmanship and local institutions starting from reflection on numbers: this is the objective of the Crafts Forum 2024, organized by the three main organizations representing micro and small businesses and Calabrian craftsmanship , Confartigianato Imprese Calabria, CNA and Casartigiani, held for the first time, in recent days, with great participation.

The regional presidents of the Three confederations, Roberto Matragrano (President of Confartigianato Imprese Calabria), Giovanni Cugliari (President of CNA) and Carmelo Francesco Giordano, general secretary of Casartigiani Calabriarepresenting the president Eugenio Blasi which, together with the interventions of the speakers, supported by the participation of companies, reiterated the centrality of the sector in the development policies of the region.
The works – coordinated by the journalist Danilo Monteleone – were concluded by the regional councilor for Productive Activities, Rosario Varisupported by the General Manager of the Economic Development Department, Paolo Praticò.

THE DATA EXAMINED – There are 32,429 artisan businesses in 2023, 17.3% of the total businesses, 6% of the weight of added value achieved by crafts. (1.7 billion euros). According to the data processed and presented by the head of the MPI Observatory of Confartigianato Imprese CalabriaLicia Redolfi, Those employed in the craft sector in Calabria are 51,134 workers, 18% in total. Also worth mentioning: 5,854 female artisan businesses (representing 18% craftsmanship); 3,562 youth businesses, which means managed by under 35s, artisans, equal to 11% of craftsmanship and 2,019 foreign artisan businesses (6.2% craftsmanship). At the moment, the sectors in greatest difficulty are those of wood fashion and machinery

In 2024, the GDP in Calabria is holding steady at +0.3%, which means the recovery (+1.5%) of the 2019 levels, contributing to the momentum of the South (+3.2%), also the public investment spending on GDP will rise again from 2023. What is slowing the trend is inflation: energy prices are late in their recovery phase.

Exports from MPI sectors hold in the first 9 months of 2023: Calabria records 0.2%. Unfortunately, Calabrian companies continue to bear the higher cost of credit and, given the high interest rates, the demand for credit is declining. The most pronounced reductions are for small companies: -5.2% compared to -1.3% for total businesses. As regards the labor market, the number of people employed in the annual average of the third quarter of 2023 is +1.3% last year, but behind in the recovery of pre-pandemic levels (-1.7%): the growth of independent employment is driving recovery phase of the labor market, and Calabria shows the best performance (the sectors in which 54% of artisan businesses operate are construction and manufacturing).

In short, it is essential to support the vitality of businesses by maintaining the right balance between rigorous choices and indispensable options for growth. And this in the face of a puzzle of inflation, rates and loans that is difficult to put together, an energy price bubble that is slowly deflating, the Red Sea crisis that is increasing transport costs and risks for port logistics, the efficient implementation of the PNRR and the labor market resilient.

During the event, the testimonies of four artisans who have benefited from the Artisans Fund – Fabio Costantino, Salvatore Paravati, Antonio Perri and Antonio Caccurri – also brought to the table elements of discussions on both the opportunities and the critical issues from which to start again to improve tenders and measures to support businesses. We remind you that the Fund for artisans is a regional tool to support the growth and development of artisan businesses with the recognition of a capital and interest contribution on investments made.

THE CONCLUSIONS OF THE VARIOUS COUNCILOR – “The general government is committed to supporting – it has always done so – the artisan sector, both by accompanying our artisans, our creators in international fairs to promote their products, and with a series of incentive measures”, supported the Regional Councilor for Economic Development Rosario Vari concluding the work. We will continue to support this sector which is truly significant in Calabria because it has almost 33,000 businesses, over 17% of the total businesses present. And what's more, artistic craftsmanship and agri-food allow us to tell not only the creativity and the product but also the Calabrian territory and therefore it will be an important growth driver for our territory. We are here to listen – concluded councilor Varì -, we have always listened to the organisations, so much so that in Calabria there are measures such as the Artisan Fund as there are very few in Italy, measures thanks to which they can be born and grow artisan businesses. It is a fund that was reactivated by this regional government, which implemented it. Measures are foreseen in the incentive plan that we approved in August 2023 for artistic craftsmanship and there will be many others shortly.”