A metropolis is an established concept of regional planning defined by large cities with more than one million inhabitants that can clearly be seen as scientific, political, economic and cultural centres which fulfil substantial supply functions and are motors of development for their wider surrounding region (metropolitan region). Its status as a metropolis projects a positive image for the city and its surrounding region and, at the same time, puts it in a more favourable position to promote its own growth and innovations.
However, what happens to smaller cities located away from metropolitan regions in more rural areas, cities whose surface area and number of inhabitants are far below that of a metropolis but which still perform an important role for their region that goes beyond the normal extent of a regional centre? These cities and their regions currently receive little public attention, thus hampering development - be it in cultural, economic or scientific terms. In order to close this gap, the concept of a regiopole, like a smaller sibling to a metropolis, was born.
For regiopoles in Germany, the Regiopole of Rostock initiative group set the following goals, which were then presented to a broad public at the First National Regiopole Forum in Rostock in 2009:
- For the regiopole to be introduced as a new category for smaller cities below the metropolis status within Germany's centralised structure with an elevated status in the extended metropolitan areas of interdependence.
- For the Ministerial Conference for Regional Planning to take the role and importance of regiopoles into greater consideration in extended metropolitan areas of interdependence in its "Growth and Innovation" model when revising regional planning models.
- For a regiopole status to be given special consideration in state and municipal fiscal equalisation.
- For the political and economic decision-making and control functions of economic areas to be concentrated in regiopoles.
- For the innovation and competitive potential in regiopole regions to be fulfilled in terms of their endogenous strengths and opportunities in order to meet sustainable social and ecological requirements secured by sustainable economic growth.
- For regiopoles to take over cross-border gateway functions in national peripheral areas in a multiplicative supplement of metropolises.
- For a German regional network to be created to represent the interests of growth centres with the aim of shaping their internal identity and consolidating their national and international lobbying work as analogous to the metropolitan structure.