Michael Fraas, head of Nuremberg city’s business department, tells Sebastian Shehadi about the German city's foreign investment attractions.  

Q: What are the main attractions to Nuremberg for foreign direct investment?

A: Nuremberg has changed its economic structure over the last 30 to 40 years. It was a centre for manufacturing for big players. These players don’t exist anymore. Now it’s a centre for high-tech and innovative services. We’ve changed and now we have a totally different approach dominated by medium-sized companies, many of which are family-owned. Nuremberg has always been a city with a technical approach. A lot of inventions have been made here. One hundred years ago, the first clock watch was invented in Germany. Some weapons have been created here. The first railway in Germany was erected in Nuremberg.

Some online businesses have been created in our region. For example, the first online real estate platform comes from Nuremberg, as does one of the first online banks. Nuremberg has always been the city for invention. That’s the thing that makes this city so attractive. We are also a location for universities, especially scientific institutions. This also makes the city more attractive. So we have a high-tech approach and an innovative approach and a modern services approach. Our high-tech sector is special and it brings in investors from all over the world.

Q: What can be done to make Nuremberg more attractive to foreign investment?

A: One thing is the lack of space because Nuremberg is a growing city. The population has grown over the last five years from 500,000 to 530,000. So the people need space to live. At the same time we need investments for business. We have some space but its not enough.

For example, in the southern part of the city there is an old freight rail area comprised of about 100 hectares. The city is mobilising this space with the owners and the investors. We want to create some space for an area for living, an area for business and an area for the university.

Q: Do you think Brexit will be good news for Nuremberg?

A: On the one hand, it’s good because I think we could attract some investments and some companies from the UK to come to here. But on the other hand, Nuremberg is an export city. The best thing for us is to have free movement of goods. That’s the most important thing. So, on the one hand it could be good, on the other it could have a negative impact.

Q: I know there have been some new German anti FDI screening laws. Do you think this is good or bad news?

A: In general, I do not want to ban investments. I think investments are good things but I think in some areas so in the defence industries or those with special strategic impacts there should be special restrictions but only in a very narrow field of activities.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
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