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MS.Petra Wassner CEO of NRW.INVEST

Germany’s NO.1 Business Location- New Opportunities in North Rhine-Westphalia

The economic development corporation, NRW.Invest, which conducts international marketing of Germany’s No.1 investment location North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), has paid visit to Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi. Aim of the visit is Georgia’s participation in the “One Road – One Belt” initiative of the Chinese government which creates new challenges and opportunities for foreign and local investors to implement range of development projects.

NRW.Invest serves as the central contact point for location projects and investments in North Rhine-Westphalia. It provides potential investors from Germany and abroad with a one-stop service ranging from locational information and business premises searches to arranging and guiding through negotiations and approval procedures. NRW.INVEST works closely with the state government and regional and local economic development organizations in North Rhine-Westphalia. Investors who have already set up business in NRW receive special support with regard to expansion, start-ups and spin-offs.

Parallel to this, NRW.INVEST conducts international marketing on behalf of North Rhine-Westphalia as a business location in Germany and abroad with the aim of acquiring investments.

Caucasus Business Week had a chance to talk with CEO of NRW.INVEST MS.Petra Wassner.

Q: MS. Petra, tell us briefly about NRW.Invest, and about North Rhine-Westphalia as Germany’s most significant investment location?

“NRW.Invest is the economic development agency of the German State of NRW, one of the sixteen federal states in Germany. NRW is the economic powerhouse of Germany. In former times North Rhine-Westphalia was dominated by coal and steel. However our state has successfully managed structural changes in the last century, and now we are a diversified high-tech location. Our leading line among all industries is the chemical industry, followed by machinery, automotive suppliers and IT. And NRW is the leading logistic location in Europe”.

Around 160 million people live within a radius of 500 kilometers around the state capital Düsseldorf – this represents almost one third of all EU consumers. No other location in Europe can reach so many people with such high purchasing power within such a short distance as NRW. 22 percent of Germany’s purchasing power is concentrated in the state. Every year, the inhabitants of NRW spend more than 340 billion euros on private consumption.

“These are some reasons why foreign investments are made in NRW. We have the density of industry, we have IT and a perfect logistic infrastructure. This encourages foreign companies to start their business”, Wassner says.

NRW has become increasingly attractive for foreign investors for several years. At 28.5 percent (189.8 billion euros) the state recorded the highest direct investment share of all 16 federal states in Germany (666 billion euros) at the end of 2014.

“It is worth to mention that nearly 1/3 of all the Foreign Direct Investments are concentrated in NRW and a quarter of all international companies in Germany are also based in our state. So you see, NRW is a very international business location with an excellent infrastructure and also a high quality of life”.

Q: What are your plans in Georgia at this stage?

NRW is one of the logistic hubs in Europe. With Duisport we have the largest inland harbor connected to Rotterdam. The transcontinental rail freight train line “Yuxinou” between the Cities of Duisburg and Chongqing in China is an important trade route and part of the “New Silk Road”.

“We are here in Georgia, because we are interested in cooperation with the Caucasus region. One reason is the ONE BELT – ONE ROAD strategy from the Chinese central Government” and “we know that Georgia is participating in this initiative and I think many projects will be created in Georgia. Such as a massive new port called Anaklia that is poised to become a game-changing gateway between Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and China. This is very interesting for companies from Germany to take part in this process.”

Q: How well-established is the practice of looking for investors in developing countries, which are currently attracting foreign investments for themselves? How do you approach a valuation of right investors?

“Our strategy is to analyse which target countries are important for North Rhine-Westphalia for attracting new investments. We have a clear strategy to acquire new companies which fit in our value chain. At this stage we have a great Chinese business community. More than 1000 companies from China are located in NRW. Apart from this NRW has also dynamic business communities  from USA, Europe, Japan, Poland, Russia and Turkey.”

More than 18,000 foreign companies have already established business operations in NRW. This equates to approx. one quarter of all multinational enterprises in Germany as a whole.

For example, Cologne has a broad-based Chinese infrastructure (medical professionals, service providers, lawyers etc.). Over the past 150 years of economic and cultural exchange with Japan, Europe’s third largest Japanese community has emerged in the city of Düsseldorf.

A strong economic structure provides ideal market conditions

The traditional industry of North Rhine-Westphalia is in the process of transition to the digital world.

Q: What about startup development and promotion projects? Do you assist startups and grownups?

“In Germany, industry and government are making great efforts towards digitization. North Rhine-Westphalia plays a key role as the state offers ideal conditions for the digital transformation of the entire value-added chain. NRW offers great market potential for companies from Germany and abroad with strong industrial structures and a broadly based ICT sector”.

These prospects also accelerate the development of the ecosystem for startups. Startups find important prerequisites for growth In NRW: In addition to customer proximity at the location, these also include support from the political community, numerous networks and above all a considerable pool of qualified specialists. The classic economy and young digital companies are jointly driving digital change. New business models, services and products are being created. In NRW, promising investments present themselves to foreign VC companies. NRW has put everything in place to become the leading location for the digital economy in Germany and Europe in the future.

NRW.INVEST one-stop agency for investors

A good start is the best way to ensure that all stages of your investment project will succeed. NRW.Invest helps to make this happen in two ways. Firstly, they provide entrepreneurs with all the support they need from the most reliable source – the state’s very own economic development agency, NRW.INVEST. Secondly, this expert guidance is packaged in an exclusive “welcome” to investors. As a one-stop agency, company offers a comprehensive range of proven services to ambitious individuals and companies.

NRW.Invest provides investors with expert know-how and guidance from trusted contacts in local and regional economic development agencies.

By Nutsa Galumashvili
Writer
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