Berlin may be the republic’s focal point, but even in the region surrounding Germany’s capital, an investor has to bear the industrial and innovative belt surrounding Berlin in mind. Brandenburg is in close proximity to Berlin, but provides more space and workforce for entrepreneurs keen to invest. Strengthen strengths – True to its motto the State of Brandenburg has been repeatedly honoured as the most economically dynamic region. Economics Minister Gerber provides a first insight.
A modern industry and more lakes than anywhere else in Germany, infinite, fairytale-like woods and innovative entrepreneurs – That’s Brandenburg. Here, there are appealing jobs and a wide range of leisure time activities and different ways to simply relax. The state between Elbe and Oder rivers has developed into a prospering and modern business location since its refoundation 25 years ago.
With the metropolis Berlin in its centre, Brandenburg is the heart of extended Europe: This is where trans-European transport routes intersect. The region surrounding German’s capital is as big as Belgium and has a larger population than Denmark, Norway or Finland and links growing markets in Central and Eastern Europe with the economic centres of Western Europe. From here, all important European markets are accessible in a day trip by lorry. And the EU neighbour Poland with approximately 38 million potential consumers is only a stone’s throw away. The region surrounding Germany’s capital is on a growth course.
A look back: The abrupt restructuring from a controlled economy to a market economy was a rocky road for many people. Old markets no longer existed and new markets had to be opened up first. Companies closed, the unemployment rate grew steadily – reaching a peak level of 18.8 per cent in 2003. People in Brandenburg were confronted with enormous challenges. Today we can say: they did a great job.
After the tedious development of competitive structures, our economy has grown steadily over the last ten years. We have reached 80 percent of the overall German level regarding labour productivity and thus the best value among the Eastern German states. With a quota of self-employed persons of twelve per cent, Brandenburg is above the national average of 10.3 per cent; while the current unemployment rate of 8.3 percent has fallen to an historical low.
Through political efforts and extensive investments it was possible to stabilise established industrial locations such as the crude oil refinery in Schwedt, the chemical industry in Schwarzheide or the steel production in Eisenhüttenstadt. International companies such as Rolls Royce, Vestas or eBay settled here. The plants all across the state – in Ludwigsfelde, close to Berlin, and in Finsterwalde, in the south of Brandenburg – provide thousands of Brandenburgians with good jobs and serve as important regional anchors. Currently, industry accounts for 21 per cent of our gross added value and 13 per cent of jobs in the state. It is the driving force for progress, added value and prosperity. This also benefits small and medium-sized companies, which make up the economic backbone of Brandenburg’s economy. That’s why the state government is committed to the industrial location Brandenburg – without ifs and buts. And it encourages businesses to tackle challenges posed by digitalisation and the industrial production, supporting them wherever possible.
Honoured as the most dynamic business location in Germany for the third time in a row, Brandenburg is a modern business location on a high industrial level: More than 1,200 industrial businesses with more than 100,000 employees generate annual revenues of about 25.5 billion euros.
The chosen route, concentrating support on economic strengths has paid off. That’s why the principal “Strengthen strengths” remains an overriding goal of Brandenburg’s promotion policy. This course has been developed further consistently.
Incorporating 26 cities and local communities, the state government has designated 15 regional growth centres in all parts of the country which are supported across agencies and enjoy priority in different funding guidelines. Another funding priority is going to be on very sustainable growth sectors, the so-called clusters. These are the five clusters supported as part of a transnational innovation strategy together with Berlin: energy technology, healthcare, information and communication technology/media, transport/mobility/logistics and optics. This also includes the Brandenburg state food industry, plastics/chemical, metal, and – of course – tourism clusters. This is due to the fact that Brandenburg is becoming increasingly popular among tourists on a national and international level.
An important impulse for the economic and social development of the state of Brandenburg is the funding provided by the European Union. Within the current funding period (2014-2020), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) provides 846 million euros – money which we want to use to provide strong stimuli for further economic growth. That’s why we in particular focus on supporting research, development and innovation. We also want to continue strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium-sized companies with the support from Brussels – for a sustainable continued increase in growth and employment.
Brandenburg offers attractive job opportunities and a wide range of leisure, recreation and cultural activities. With lots of dedication and vigour over the last 25 years, Brandenburgians have turned their cities and villages into lovely gems, worth visiting. Many historical buildings and palaces tell of the State’s rich history. Almost one-third of Brandenburg’s area is under nature conservation. And no other state has more quality cycling routes certified by the Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club (German Cyclist’s Association) – to name just a few examples of the high quality of living in Brandenburg.
Bottom line: 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg offers ideal perspectives when it comes to living and working.
Born in Schleswig-Holstein in 1967, the author studied Political Science in Bonn and Berlin and has been working in various positions in Brandenburg’s politics since 1990. Most recently as head of the Chancellery. Albrecht Gerber has been Minister of Economics and Energy of the State of Brandenburg since November 2014.