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The Warsaw Voice » Business » August 29, 2012
Business & Economy
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POZNAŃ: City of Success
August 29, 2012   
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Ryszard Grobelny, mayor of Poznań:
The New York Times recently ran an article about Poznań, praising it for what it has achieved and calling it a city of success. I think we truly deserve this praise—we have tried for years to create favorable conditions for Poznań residents and all those who have decided to settle or do business in the city to enable them to pursue their goals in life.

Poznań is a city of young people. Most people living here are aged between 24 and 35, have degrees and a fluent command of at least one foreign language. Innovation is nothing new to them. This human capital is a big incentive for investors, who are one of the driving forces behind the city’s growth. It is thanks to its large pool of specialists that Poznań has been able to keep unemployment at the lowest level in Poland. In May 2012, the city’s unemployment rate stood at 4 percent.

There are many foreign companies operating in Poznań, including Volkswagen, Bridgestone, GlaxoSmithKline, Ciber, Ikea and hosts of others. And Poznań has its own success stories—the bus and coach manufacturer Solaris, the supermarket chain Piotr i Paweł and the Fortuna breweries, a gem of the Wielkopolska region.

Investors can count on support from the city. The mission of the municipal Investor Service and Investment Promotion Office is to take care of prospective investors and firms which are of strategic importance for the development of the city. Each investor is assigned an investment guide, that is a member of staff responsible for handling the investment project. Our airport, Poznań Ławica, offers connections with 28 European cities, which is a big advantage in making business decisions.

Poznań offers many attractive leisure opportunities—we have many theaters, cinemas and museums. For those who seek more active leisure pursuits, there is a sports and recreation complex by the Malta lake and Poland’s only racing circuit. The Municipal Stadium, a venue of the recent UEFA Euro 2012 soccer championships, will be of interest to soccer fans. It has already attracted more than a million visitors.

Poznań was ranked third in Poland in terms of the quality of life in 2011 for good reason. The city owes this favorable perception to its economic, social and cultural resources, the sense of security that people feel, and well-developed road and transport infrastructure. Due to all these factors, the city continues to develop and this development above all aims to create a place that is close to people and where people want to return and live.

Andrzej Byrt, chairman of the Poznań International Fair:
The New York Times has good reason to regard Poznań as an example of Poland’s economic success. Poznań has done well not only in times of economic boom, but also during the crisis. It is one of the few large cities in Poland where privatization by foreign investors has worked. Local enterprises which were not privatized went bankrupt, whereas those that were are flourishing. Still, the massive flow of Western capital turned out to be a blessing when foreign investors embraced the location, the qualified workers and the quality infrastructure of Poznań.

One of the most remarkable examples of the city’s success is Solaris, a Polish bus and tram producer. What made the company choose Poznań surroundings instead of Warsaw or Cracow? The Poznań authorities told Solaris that once the company produced top-of-the-range buses, the city would buy them. It was a lucky turn of events that a businessman who had acquired experience in Germany chose to settle in Poznań province and was able to combine his knowledge with the city’s expectations. Another example is the Poznań International Fair, the largest trade, exhibition and congress center in central Europe—big magnet for foreigners looking for contacts in Poland.

The article in The New York Times mentions several important facts which back in Poland are underestimated and hardly anyone speaks about them. To begin with, the article emphasizes that Poland has exercised a conservative financial policy, never allowing too much freedom in borrowing. Poland’s National Bank has kept lending under control, irrespective of the political parties that ruled the country. As a result, Poland has not been sucked into a spiral of debt and we have avoided what has happened to some of our country’s neighbors.

The article also cites a tongue-in-cheek remark that even the crisis doesn’t work in Poland and while this is just a little joke, Poznań is definitely home to businesses which are founded on solid grounds... and where everything works.

In my opinion, while economic growth in Poland will slow down, the upward trend will continue nonetheless. We cannot survive a recession, as recession could mean a new tide of emigration. That would harm Poland the most. It would deprive us of the most dynamic component of our growth - that is people. On the other hand, our drive to head abroad has stimulated exports. Polish expats started drinking Polish beer, eating Polish bread and butter and so on and that made other nations realize that Polish food is of high quality. Major shopping chains which have entered Poland are now selling Polish food products worldwide.

I hope the Tusk government will have the willpower to use its moment in the sun to carry out a dozen economic reforms: to tackle public finances, speed up the privatization of industrial giants (for instance the chemical industry) and remove bureaucratic barriers for small businesses.
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