Q: You’ve been mayor for eight years; what does your re-election mean for Łódź?
A: First of all, it means a continuation of this huge process of transformation, which entails further revitalisation of the city centre, continued improvement to the quality of life for the city’s inhabitants, as well as further [attitudinal] changes, since the city is its people. In the past, the people of Łódź did not believe their own strength. Now, thanks to this transformation, they have started being proud of their city.
I make it a point to manage the city in a modern way; as a place to live, as well as for economic development. Therefore, it is very important for us to attract investors. I think that a change in the leadership of the city could imply a disruption in this process, as is happening elsewhere in the country. My outlook is basically liberal, both in terms of economics and world view, while in other places in Poland, let’s say, they are more focused on the social safety net. But this does not mean that we don’t care for Łódź’s inhabitants.
I have won the next term on a programme of developing the city centre, but also various neighbourhoods surrounding the city centre. This means ensuring appropriate infrastructure, such as sidewalks, parks, squares, kindergartens and schools, as well as appropriate care for the elderly. It is extremely important for me to ensure a good quality of life for people who deserve it.
Q: What makes Łódź exciting for foreign investment?
A: On a map of Poland and Europe, Łódź is one of the best places in terms of the ratio of wages to quality of life. When you compare both, you can get the best value for your money.
For manufacturers, the location and workforce – which is highly competent and qualified – is of great importance. We have an unemployment rate of about 5%. Łódź offers multi-talented human resources – high-level and mid-level managers, as well as workers. What is also crucial is the quality of life in the city, as many of the decision makers, or their subordinates, will have to come here to live.
In modern economies, cities are competing not so much for foreign investors but also inhabitants – that is, potential workers. We can attract them by creating good living conditions and conditions for development. Workers are the basic resource for investors, and it’s workers that are basically the crucial factor right now in market development.
Given the general ageing population across Europe, this is what will determine the growth trajectory of various cities and countries. This is one reason why we’re developing the idea of a ‘duopolis’ between Łódź and Warsaw, a 90-minute drive away [in other words, connecting the two cities further, not least through an airport between the two].
Q: Is this ‘duopolis’ going to happen, or is it wishful thinking?
A: Duopolis is already happening. Łódź is a place where dreams come true and you can see that by the number of investors coming here, as well as by the number of people coming here to stay. Now, we have a positive migration ratio – so more people are coming here than leaving.