Located in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains Alcoy was once a major manufacturing city, but is today home to just 60,000 residents.
32-year-old Eneas González left Alcoy to go to university and has never returned preferring to stay in Alicante along with his girlfriend, cousin, sister and parents who have also left Alcoy.
“You are studying, then you get a scholarship, in the end, you find a job and you stay,” says González.
“Those who study outside of Alcoy have more opportunities to find a job and greater ambition to develop their career,” he explains. González is still proud to be from Alcoy and returns to visit with his friends who have not abandoned the city in search of work. One of his friends who remain, Javier Jaén, talks about the problem of living in Alcoy saying: “There’s barely any work, everything has been lost.” Blaming globalization and the cheapness of Chinese made goods for the lack of jobs.
At the weekend the historic centre of the city is deserted and the only shopping mall is a failure as it “doesn’t work and has changed management five or six times” since it was opened, says Jaén. Meanwhile, his wife drives 20 minutes every day to the town of Onil where she works for a toy company. According to Jaén, tourism is the only sector Alcoy City Hall is trying to boost.
Municipal authorities dispute this claim, saying their job creation policies have led unemployment to drop “26% in the last four years.” “We have directly employed more than 400 people from different age groups and different qualifications,” they say. “We have improved all industrial areas of Alcoy and we have increased grants to create businesses and shops, especially in the centre.”
But Jaén believes the city needs to do more in order to stop Alcoy turning into a “dormitory town” for Alicante that will only be visited during the Moors and Christian’s fiestas in April. He explains: “The city has to generate a lot more opportunities for people to stay.”