Jacek Jaśkowiak, a former entrepreneur who was first elected as the mayor of Poznań in Poland in 2014, compares the job to running a business.

“Just as in business, running a city is about outperforming the competition: you have to have the better team, better product or better services. My job is to give to the people who live in Poznań a good, comfortable life and I [am constantly striving to do this]. Otherwise we will not be able to compete with other cities,” he says.


Business itself is sound in Poznań. The unemployment rate, at about 1.3%, is one of the lowest in Poland. Greenfield FDI into Poznań hit an estimated $1.3bn in 2018, according to greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets – the highest it has been in more than a decade – while 2019 figures look promising with $586m tracked as of early August.  

On the right road

The fifth largest city in Poland and second most prosperous, Poznań sits on an important transport corridor halfway between Warsaw and Berlin. This location, combined with a strong industrial base, makes it a popular location for logistics and distribution centres. Industrial real estate developer Panattoni is building a new logistics park in the suburb of Komorniki outside Poznań. When complete, the complex will have a total area of 86,690 square metres. 

An academic and scientific hub, Poznań is home to 25 universities, including eight public universities, with 120,000 students (every fifth resident of Poznan is a student). A cluster of R&D activity has flowered around this vigorous academic base.

BPO and shared services centres are also key contributors to Poznań's economy and saw announcements in the past year of sizeable new investments. Among them, Japan-based outsourcing specialist Transcosmos announced plans in 2018 to open a customer contact centre in Poznan, leasing 850 square metres of office space and planning to create up to 500 jobs. 

On the industrial side, one of the largest employers in Poznań, auto and truck parts manufacturer Bridgestone, has announced it is investing more than €160m to expand and upgrade its tyre production facility in the city. The daily production volume of tyres will be increased from the current 31,000 to 40,000. The project is set to be completed in 2022. 

Pulling in people

Just as recruitment and talent development is the key to success when running a business, Mr Jaśkowiak views city management the same way. “For me the priorities are quite simple: [listen to] the investors and upgrade the structure of employees, of means not just more people but more highly qualified people. Because my main resource is personal income tax – it makes up at least one-quarter from our budget – then the more people who come and live in Poznań the better. This also helps bring in more money for such things as [social services], hospitals and schools,” he says.

An added incentive is the need to keep a steady supply of workers available to the more than 100,000 business entities present in Poznań at a time of low unemployment.

This makes quality of life a priority in Poznań. The mayor is especially keen to attract, and retain, young people by making the city appealing to a more youthful demographic by creating an open, liberal vibe to the city, which he contrasts with the rightward tilt of Poland nationally and more staid parts of the country.

“The young people see Poznań as a sexy city. We aren’t conservative or nationalist... sometimes even I am shocked by the things we do here, but I don’t interfere or judge,” says Mr Jaśkowiak with a slight smile. In 2018 he was the first mayor in the city’s history to provide honorary patronage over LGBT Pride Week festivities and marched in the gay pride parade himself.

Mr Jaśkowiak also sees affordable, quality housing as important to the liveability of Poznań for people of all ages and so has made boosting the housing stock a priority. “In Poznan if you look at the numbers, we have a [very large] increase in new apartments: 1800 only in three months,” he says. Likewise, the city is investing in schools, green areas, culture, sports and recreation.

“It is important to have young, well-educated, highly qualified, creative people – so the city needs to provide the life that they want,” says the mayor. And that is just good business sense.