The mayor of Warsaw, Poland’s capital city, is an economist by training – a former central banker, no less – but this practitioner of the ‘dismal science’ has an upbeat take on Warsaw’s prospects amid the current global economic gloom.

“I can be optimistic about unemployment, for example,” says Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. “Even in January it was still only 2%. Warsaw has been a very dynamic city if you look at GDP growth. For the past five years, GDP was on average 10% a year. Poland’s was between 5% and 6%.” Furthermore, she believes the city’s value proposition is being strengthened.

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Cost efficiency

“Some companies that are operating in, say, London or other cities that became a little bit too expensive are seeking the possibility to make some financial savings. Our accounting centres in Warsaw are attractive to various investors, such as Sony Entertainment, to name one example,” she says. “If you take the Cushman & Wakefields rankings, Warsaw is always one of the lowest-cost places for office space. The cost of human capital is also regionally low.”

Closing the gap

House prices have taken a hit, but the mayor is confident they will come back up and in the meantime, the cool-off presents an opportunity to let infrastructure catch up with previous property development. “We have the possibility of closing the gap between housing and infrastructure because it was a very buoyant market for housing but the infrastructure was lagging behind.”

Two priority projects are the construction of a major new bridge and a second line for the city’s subway system. New leisure facilities are also being planned. “We need more open spaces and recreation and sports facilities for Euro 2012, so investors can count on some financial incentives if they invest in sport or recreation or infrastructure,” she says.