Andreas Bausewein: Erfurt – A political and economic centre

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The vibrant development of Thuringia’s capital can be seen in many areas. Erfurt is growing, both in terms of the number of residents and its economy. New companies are settling here and creating jobs. Over 10,000 young people are studying at the university and university of applied science and are livening up the city with their creative ideas. In 2017 Erfurt will become one of German Rail’s most important rail hubs. Both its ICE City – currently being built around the central station – and the 2021 National Garden Show are considered to have the greatest potential for the city’s development. Both projects are intended to continue this positive development over the long term.

A favourable location and accessibility are two factors from which Erfurt is benefiting considerably. Situated at the intersection of two former trading routes, this has had a positive influence on the city of Erfurt since time immemorial. Today, the transport infrastructure in and around the state capital of Thuringia is in outstanding condition and ensures that Erfurt is accessible quickly and easily, whether via the ICE railway station, the excellent autobahn links or the international commercial airport.

Erfurt has had a new high-speed railway line to Berlin, which has formed a major part of the “Verkehrsprojekt Deutsche Einheit 8” since December 2015; this will be extended to Munich in 2017. Shorter travelling times and optimally-coordinated timetables will make Erfurt even more attractive as a location for meetings, conference and key company services.

The quality of life in Erfurt has a magnetic effect. Whether one is a tourist, student, investor or resident, Erfurt captivates with Thuringian charm and cosmopolitan amiability. Erfurt is one of the few cities in Thuringia which is continually growing. Every year, over 10,000 – especially young – people choose Erfurt as the new central point of their lives. With its lively flair and confident, committed residents, Erfurt offers everything one could expect of a state capital: a charming and eventful past, beautiful architecture, a cultural scene which has grown over the centuries, a broad range of vocational and other educational opportunities, the latest sports facilities and – in particular – prospects for everyone who settles here.

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Over 10,000 students are enrolled at the university and university of applied sciences. Together with the academic staff, they bring new ideas, student life, international links and enquiring minds to the city. Close links to research and development guarantee companies competitiveness on the domestic and international markets. Research centres in Erfurt shorten the transfer between science and commerce.

Directly adjacent to Erfurt’s Central Railway Station, a completely new city suburb in the form of the ICE City Erfurt, a modern location for working, living and holding conferences is being developed. Hotel and conference space, flexible office and industrial space, restaurants, leisure facilities, small shops, high-quality residential space and generous park and green areas are being constructed on a surface area equivalent to 30 football fields. This will enable ICE-City investors and project developers, who are all relying on optimal accessibility and an attractive environment, to offer first-class prospects.

A logistics centre in the heart of Europe. Rapid ICE links, the excellent connection with the autobahn network and the Erfurt-Weimar Airport ensure fast access to other points within Germany and Europe. At the “Erfurt Freight Centre”, or GVZ, a state-of-the-art railway freight terminal enables rapid and easy links between rail and road. Overall, more than 70 companies provide logistics services to their customers from Erfurt, from combining, storing, commissioning through to distribution of goods.

From microelectronics to a high-tech location. In the 20th century, Erfurt’s economic profile was defined by microelectronics. Even up to the present day, companies have developed which are successful in the fields of micro-technology, sensor technology and IT. Numerous high-tech firms are based in southeast Erfurt in particular. Erfurt relies on the technologies of the 21st century. Over the last few years, the Southeastern Erfurt Research and Industrial Centre (FIZ) has become a high-tech location and competence centre for microelectronics and microsystems technology. The industrial park is also home to the Microsystems Technology Application Centre which assists company start-ups and is the home base of two research centres: the IMMS and the CiS.

Erfurt is a young, innovative media location that enriches the media landscape by breaking new ground. For example, this is where the IOSONO sound system finds its way to the world. Media technology is also at home in Erfurt in the form of the Childrens’ Media Department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology. Overall, childrens’ media have great potential and particularly special importance in Erfurt. The childrens’ channel KiKA, the Kinderkanal (Childrens’ Channel) in ARD and ZDF, the state broadcasting building of Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk (Central German Broadcasting Corporation / MDR) and the KinderMedienZentrum (Childrens’ Media Centre) Studio Park form the core of the industry in Erfurt. Many young companies, including those located outside the Centre, use this infrastructure – which is unique in Germany, in particular Kinderfilm GmbH, whose productions have won numerous awards.

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Mechanical and plant engineering and horticulture are other sectors with a long tradition. Since the end of the 19th century, special machinery used to be manufactured in Erfurt; today, mainly presses, pumps and generators are made here. Trendsetters are Siemens AG’s generator plant and Schuler Pressen GmbH, one of the central production and servicing locations of the Schuler Group, which values the excellent infrastructure and which even functions as a training company and a reliable employer.

Commercial horticulture is deeply-rooted in Erfurt, an activity which has a history going back over 300 years. Mediaeval field cultivation was followed by cultivation and trading in flowers and vegetable seeds in the 19th century that made Erfurt world-famous as a garden city and which gave it the nickname “City of Flowers”. As part of the 2021 National Garden Show, Erfurt plans to connect with this tradition as a “Gardening Culture City”.

Multi-facetted tourism. Anyone who has visited Erfurt knows why tourism has become a major economic factor for the city. Visitors from all over the world have already become acquainted with it: their number has doubled to over 11 million guests a year over the last 15 years. The 809,300 overnight stays reached a new record in 2015 which has confirmed the positive development of the last few years. All in all, tourism as an economic factor guarantees and creates about 15,000 jobs.

In all of this, Erfurt impresses not only with its history and architecture – special mention should be made here of personalities such as Martin Luther, the city’s lively Jewish heritage and architectural eye-catchers such as the Krämerbrücke (Krämer Bridge). It also functions as a modern conference location. This branch of tourism is being further reinforced with the development of the ICE City and completion of the multi-purpose arena.

Erfurt is Thuringia’s economic and political centre. This is where the political fates of the Free State of Thuringia are guided. Its economy – made up of a range of industries – is broadly-based. Some 14,000 companies employ over 140,700 people. Erfurt is worth living in and, quite simply, is a nice place to be – a piece of news which has got around, which is why many young people are moving here. The city’s potential is immense. It is our chief concern to make use of this and further expand it.

ob_bausewein_bruehlAndreas Bausewein
Andreas Bausewein has been Lord Mayor of Erfurt since July 2006. He studies education and the University of Applied Sciences and the University of Erfurt. After working for several years as a lecturer/social worker at the Berufsfortbildungswerk at Tonna Prison and as a qualifications coordinator at the Thuringia branch of the DGB in Erfurt, he was elected to the Thuringian State Legislature in 2004 as a member of the Social Democratic Party.