Q: How would you describe Katowice? Is it still an industrial town that has a landscape dotted with mining towers?

A: Our city is changing and reinventing itself at the moment. For example, 15 years ago in the city centre we had a coal mine that employed 2000 people. Now we are redeveloping this site at a cost of 1bn zlotys [€241m] and we are constructing a new convention centre, a museum and a concert hall.

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Katowice should also be seen as a city that embraces culture, as can be seen from the number of cultural events and new facilities connected with culture. And it might come as a surprise, given that we are a mining city, but some 43% of our territory is made up of parks and forests.

Q: Katowice’s economy used to rely heavily on coal mining. Which sectors are crucial for the city now?

A: Katowice respects its mining heritage, but recently it has seen dynamic growth in projects connected to business process outsourcing [BPO] and shared services. We have an excellent network of universities, with a big emphasis on engineering studies. This undoubtedly gives investors great growth potential when it comes to R&D projects.

Apart from these skills, there is something else that really distinguishes our local workforce. Because of our mining heritage, there is an unparalleled work ethic. This may seem like an out-dated concept, but the feedback we receive from executives based in our region that have operations in other cities in Poland is that they find employees here more loyal and dedicated than elsewhere.

Q: Katowice is located only 80 kilometres from Krakow, a city that is not only an established tourist destination, but also a magnet for BPO projects. Do you see Krakow a competitor?

A: I do, to a certain extent. But there are more areas of co-operation than competition. For example, now we are thinking about bidding for the Winter Olympic Games [in 2022], together with Krakow. For people outside Poland, this is one territory. We should work together, as by joining forces we can achieve more. We can also make sure we do not lose jobs to other places in Poland or elsewhere in Europe, and we attract business to ‘Krakowice’, as some people call it.

Q: But given that Katowice is still widely seen as an industrial city, is it a city where people aspire to live?

A: There is a big migration between the cities [in Poland] and at the moment we have a negative migration balance. New jobs connected with innovative industries, such as BPO, can be seen as a pull factor. At the moment there are more jobs in cities such as Krakow or Wroclaw. Because of that, we are keen to attract new investment to the region. We are working hard to attract our former residents back to the city and also to attract new residents.

We have recently had a wide discourse about how to promote the city. The slogan we came up with is 'Katowice for a change'. There are certain notions and preconceptions about the city, but we are changing and we need a new image for the city to reflect that effort.