Q: What are Oberhausen’s selling points for foreign investment?
A: Oberhausen houses [Germany’s] largest entertainment and shopping centre, CentrO, with more than 100,000 square metres of retail space. [Many millions] of visitors come to Oberhausen every year from, especially from the Ruhr region, and surrounding regions. So it’s an interesting shopping city, and event and leisure city, with music and theatre events.
Oberhausen has the Gasometer, the largest exhibition hall in Europe, which it hosts really exciting exhibitions. Oberhausen is a place of tourism and cultural or business events; we have 500,000 guests in the hotels.
Oberhausen was a powerhouse for coal and steel, but that changed during in the late 20th century. However, we still have a lot of industry, and supporting industries. So we have services and retail, but strong industry [as well]. Logistics has also become important to Oberhausen.
In terms of cost of living, our housing market doesn’t have huge pressure like that in Munich or Berlin. We have affordable living, but we want houses that increase standards of living. We’re looking to build 5000 new units by 2030, for the middle-income range. [With] the new jobs that are coming from investment, we want companies to have people living in Oberhausen, not outside the city, because it’s cheaper and greener.
Q: What are you hoping to improve in Oberhausen, business-wise?
A: Oberhausen had a big challenge in the past 40 to 50 years. It lost 57,000 jobs in the coal, iron and steel industries. We can say we’ve transformed thanks to tourism, new industry and services. CentrO exemplifies that, as does the Legoland park, and many leisure facility areas, such as the marina or the ‘tree-to-tree’ area where you can jump from treehouses.
But we still need to transform the city, make it future-proof and continue our success by using the remaining sites to their highest potential. We want to find new investors that create new jobs and bring success to the city and its citizens. So we still have free space in the city, but it’s not infinite, and we’re looking to create residential areas in workplace areas, and vice versa. Oberhausen is dense, population-wise.