Pyhäjoki & Neighbourhood
Helena Illikainen kehuu Pyhäjoen kunnan rohkeutta ja kykyä päätöksentekoon.

Photo by Toni Pallari

Improving vitality

Pyhäjoki’s new economic development director Helena Illikainen sees development of the municipality’s vitality as teamwork where input is also needed from the residents.

Pyhäjoki and its surroundings are living an era of strong change. Helena Illikainen, who was previously the economic development director of the municipality of Tyrnävä, came to Pyhäjoki because of the driver of the changes, Fennovoima’s Hanhikivi 1 project.

Many of the economic development director’s duties involve indirect effects of the Hanhikivi 1 project. The small municipality will change in many ways during the project period. The number of people working at Pyhäjoki may even quadruple during the construction phase of the nuclear power plant. The increased demand for services in both the private and the public sector must be addressed, but the municipality must also consider the people who already live there.

“It’s all about comprehensive development of vitality,” Illikainen says.

Varied background

The job of economic development director brings Illikainen changes in her private life. She lives in Pyhäjoki from Monday to Friday and spends her weekends with her family in Oulu.

The transfer from rural Tyrnävä to Pyhäjoki was by no means a jump into the unknown for Illikainen, even though she had no previous ties to the municipality. As the economic development director, she will develop business life and handle the municipality’s marketing and communications. There are many duties that are already familiar to her, such as networking and managing social and business relationships.

“They have had the courage to look into the future.”

Other people will handle urban planning at Pyhäjoki, however. Illikainen believes that her training as an architect and the fact that she has been a private entrepreneur offer her an excellent opportunity to serve entrepreneurs who are interested in the municipality.

Illikainen has gained contacts and expertise also as the chairperson of the Board of Directors of regional development association Nouseva Rannikkoseutu ry (Norsu).

“We work as a team: no one person can do this alone.”


Helena Illikainen praises the municipality of Pyhäjoki for its courage and ability to make decisions.

“They have had the courage to look into the future.”

Pyhäjoki has promoted traffic arrangements and increased the amount of land available for businesses and residents. In addition, new residential and commercial areas have been added to land use plans. Meanwhile, the amount of privately available land has increased as well. The municipality has also joined construction and development projects.

“Pyhäjoki is a larger municipality than it seems,” Illikainen notes.

According to Illikainen, only a fraction of the strengths of this naturally beautiful municipality with varied nature has been utilized. Local businesses have now noticed the opportunities offered by the river and the sea.

The economic development director knows that the progress of a large project requires persistent work.

“A year may seem like a long time to wait for something, but if you look at what has happened since the completion of Hanhikiventie road in 2015, you can see that development has taken place.”

Building the new and protecting the old will exist side by side during the major change in Pyhäjoki. “Pyhäjoki is a larger municipality than it seems,” says the municipality’s new economic development director Helena Illikainen.


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