Q: Do you consider FDI a top priority for yourself and your leadership of Bordeaux? If so, how do you promote the city and how do you go about attracting FDI?
A: First of all, we need FDI because we have to support a very important demographic in the city, so we have to create jobs. We have defined an economic strategy with very ambitious targets: 100,000 new jobs from now to 2030. We think it is realistic because in 2017 we reached 10,000 new jobs and the situation is improving year upon year. But we have to support and encourage this new movement.
To do this we have launched a new marketing campaign to attract new investors, under the banner of a new brand: ’Bordeaux Magnétique’ or ‘Magnetic Bordeaux’. Why? Because we think Bordeaux is attractive as a magnet and so now we are trying to develop this campaign with the participation of all the stakeholders.
I would underline the attractiveness of the University of Bordeaux. We have more than 90,000 students; one out of 10 inhabitants of the metropolis is a student. They are very positive for the vitality of the city, day and night. Among our students, 10% are foreign students so it is also important for the attractiveness of the city. We have some centres of excellence in areas such as medicine, art and neurosciences, so the university is a very important tool, and we have a very good relationship between the university and the metropolis.
Invest in Bordeaux is our development agency. Its mission is to welcome investors to Bordeaux and to facilitate relocation because it’s not so easy for investors to find housing for employees and jobs for couples – and also to facilitate the relationship with our complex administrative process in France. So Invest in Bordeaux does a very good job to facilitate investment [here].
Q: When people hear ‘Bordeaux’ they immediately think of wine and tourism. Does that help or hurt when you’re trying to promote the city for business as well? Can the two be connected?
A: Yes. It’s an opportunity for Bordeaux. It’s the reason we are so well known around the world. When I was foreign minister I found that after Paris, Bordeaux was the best-known French city in the world ahead of Lyon and Marseille – and it’s due to wine. And so we have to say that [Bordeaux is known for its] wine industry and wine economy – but not only [for these things]… Bordeaux is not only a place to visit a Unesco heritage site, it is also a place to work. We have a good quality of life. There is a high-quality network of entrepreneurs and I try to channel this image, not abandon it. It is also a place in which we have workers, investors and entrepreneurs.
Q: Regarding the business environment of France in general, do you support the reforms that president Emmanuel Macron is making? What changes would help you at the local level to attract more business?
A: I am no longer involved in national political life, but as a citizen I am interested in the future of my country. I think the reforms of Mr Macron and prime minister Édouard Philippe are absolutely necessary to adapt the French economy and French society to the global world. So I support the French reforms.
When I was candidate for the primaries, I wrote a book about educational reform – it’s exactly the same programme that is being implemented now. So I support it. It’s difficult because the French are sometimes very difficult people – but I think they are on the right path.