Katowice serves as the capital of Silesia province, historically known for its mining and industrial capabilities. In recent years the city has undertaken sustained efforts to diversify its economy and attract foreign investment, including through programs co-financed by the European Union.
Silesia has long been known for its heavy industry and richness in coal. Now that the world transitions towards clean energy, how is the region transforming?
Heavy industries are still of importance and the region still hosts some of the big players in energy, such as Tauron. But these activities have diminished in strength especially when it comes to Katowice, the capital city of the region. Industrial players today tend to drive their business from neighboring cities, where space allows for big industrial facilities.
Several years ago our local authorities decided to switch focus towards the BPO and IT sectors. It cost a lot of work, but from year to year there were more and more investors from the modern business services sector.
In 2013, after many efforts, we managed to attract IBM to Katowice and this inspired other big companies to take notice of what we can offer. IT and business services presently stand as a pillar for our local economy, and almost 25,000 employees work in this sector.
What can we expect in terms of development going forward?
We are aware of the fact that a strong economy is a diversified and innovation-oriented economy. In Katowice, IT processes are most strongly represented, we try to attract even more advanced R&D processes. We are also focused on the e-sports sector, beeing already a host of the biggest e-sports event in Europe, Intel Extreme Masters, which gathered 200 million online viewers last year - a fantastic outcome. The sector will only grow in the years to come and we are putting our efforts into becoming a true hub for gaming technologies.
Just recently an incubator dedicated to start-ups in the gaming sector (established by the central government) has been moved from Cieszyn to Katowice. Our mayor, Mr. Marcin Krupa, expressed his support for start-ups and pledged a financial contribution on behalf of the city of PLN 1 million. The funds will be used to organize o competition which will most likely debut next spring.
Poland in general boasts a thriving socio-economic ecosystem, but Silesia has a reputation for a historically rich and proud personality. What would you say sets Katowice, its capital, apart?
Katowice is the capital city of the voievodeship and is surrounded by several other cities, located very close to one another. We act as a true metropolis that hosts almost 2,3 million people, an incredible strength because it gives us access to an immense talent pool.
We also offer attractive business facilities such as affordable office space and an international congress center that can host thousands of visitors. Last year we hosted COP24 and in three years time we will welcome the UN-Habitat conference. More broadly, the city is very inviting towards young people and families, an aspect that we continue to improve on because we are noticing the “spirit” of the city matters more and more to investors, and a high quality of life is always essential.
When it comes to attracting investors, what geographies are you looking at with priority?
So far the most significant investments are from the United States, France and Germany. But we do not have a strategy focused on specific countries, rather we try to spread the message about the opportunities here as wide as possible.
As we travel to international events we are noticing the Katowice brand is becoming increasingly recognized, and seen as an interesting place to invest. Our new slogan, Katowice for a change represents our open minded and future oriented stance. Our efforts so far have been paying off and we are optimistic about what the next years will bring.
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