For fDi’s Cities and Countries of the Future rankings, officials in economic development and those charged with attracting investment are invited to tell us about their specific strategy for attracting FDI. The FDI Strategy category is the only category in the ranking that is qualitative, with the winning locations decided by an expert judging panel. In the FDI Strategy category for fDi’s Polish Cities of the Future 2015/16, Lodz, the third most populous city in Poland, has ranked in first place. The Investor Service Bureau at Lodz City Hall comprises four teams, employing 18 people. The four teams focus on local investors, investor services, real estate and infrastructure to ensure all elements of inward investment are covered. Lodz has a range of incentives on offer for potential investors, including corporate income tax and real estate tax exemptions, grants for priority sectors and human resources support.
Judges were impressed by the Youth in Lodz programme, which has been running since 2008 and aims to foster relations and co-operation between the city of Lodz and its major universities and employers. Judges were particularly complimentary of the city’s unique project to invest in languages, namely its Language Crazy programme, which aims to educate young people in the city in “the area of rare languages, especially Norwegian. These languages are most searched for among the employers from the business process outsourcing (BPO)/IT branch,” according to its submission. Lodz’s New City Centre project, which forms part of its 2020 strategy, incorporates 100 hectares in the centre of the city. The public sector has committed to more than 50 projects as part of this project, whose value is worth more than 4bn zloty ($1.07bn). The 2020 development strategy’s economic element, which runs alongside its corresponding social and environmental elements, aims to increase revenues of both the city and its residents. This strategy gave judges the impression of a city with a tangible and solid direction.
Katowice, a city of more than 300,000 people, ranked second in the ranking. Katowice City Hall has nine dedicated employees working in its strategic investors assistance department, in addition to staff working to attract investment at Katowice Special Economic Zone, which received an honourable mention in fDi’s Global Free Zones of the Year 2014. Judges were impressed with Katowice’s international outreach and strategy for approaching investors. Important to their strategy is their presence at various conferences and exhibitions around the world, including property exhibition Mipim in Cannes and the World BPO/IT Forum in New York. Supplementing the city’s international physical presence, the judging panel also commented on the city’s reach in international and domestic media – including Forbes, Poland Today and, of course, fDi Magazine.
Wroclaw, in western Poland, has been ranked third in fDi’s FDI Strategy category. The Business Support Centre at Wroclaw Agglomeration Development Agency employs eight full-time staff, and provides a range of training programmes and workshops on attracting FDI. fDi’s judging panel noted the close partnership between the centre and the national investment agency, Invest in Poland, and was also impressed with the agency’s collaboration with other international embassies and chambers of commerce in promoting and attracting investment.
The judging panel also highlighted the city’s aftercare service. In its submission, Wroclaw Agglomeration Development Agency stated: “The city authorities arrange regular meetings with the presidents and managing directors of Wroclaw-based companies so as to know each other, discuss important matters, listen to the problems and important issues of the companies in order to react to them and generally to create a healthy business environment for present and future investors”.
Judges also liked the city’s academic hub – the first of its kind in Poland. It operates as a platform for local government, business and academics to come together to support the development of science and university education in the city, all the while co-operating with the local business environment.
The capital of the Pomeranian voivodeship Gdansk ranked fourth in the FDI Strategy category of the ranking. Gdansk Economic Development Agency employs 11 people, all charged with investment promotion and facilitation. The city has several interesting initiatives to attract investment, including the Gdansk Voucher, a financial tool companies can use to help them with PR activities for their investment. Additionally, it provides a series of educational programmes, preparing employees for working in sectors investing in the city, and an aftercare system, ensuring the investor is confident, happy and comfortable in their investment.
Poland’s second most populous city, Krakow, ranked fifth in our FDI strategy category. The city’s Investment Support Centre employs eight staff members, all specialised in economic promotion. Krakow’s Special Economic Zone offers financial state aid to incoming investors. Judges were impressed by Krakow’s strategy to fill a gap in the labour market. The Krakow Science Centre identifies skills needed by companies in various sectors and works with representatives of the city, business and science institutions to plug these gaps.
Piotrkow Trybunalski, which ranked sixth, impressed the judging panel with its investment incentives. State aid is available at various levels for companies, depending on their size and the level of employment created, and there are also real estate tax exemptions.
Support and encouragement
Poznan, which ranked seventh and is one of the biggest cities in Poland, provided a lot of support for encouraging employment in the city, and had effective policies in place to tackle long-term unemployment in particular. While funds are available to employers for internships and trainees, there are also programmes to attract unemployed parents back to work and for getting unemployed people over 50 years of age into the workplace.
Gliwice, located in the Silesian voivodeship, ranked in ninth place of the FDI Strategy category. Judges liked its use of mapping tools to attract investment. Its Municipal Geographical Information system provides information to users relating to architecture and real estate management.
The level of inward investment a location receives can be dramatically affected by the policies and strategies individual locations put in place. When comparing locations in one country, of course we are likely to find some national incentives and initiatives on offer designed to make that country stand out. It is what individual locations do thereafter, however, that differentiates them from their neighbour and makes a CEO sit up and take notice.