Dr. Peter Kurz: Where the car and spaghetti ice cream were thought up

Mannheim: Economic success. Squared. Economic success – that is ideas and in­­no­vation, efficiency and productivity, industrial diversity and openness, creativity, culture and a lot of smart heads. All of these can be found in Mannheim, the square town. The streets span the popular and lively city centre like a chess­board: the squares A to U. Mannheim is the centre of the Rhine-Neckar metropol­itan region. First and foremost, Mannheim is a top location for successful and cre­­ative companies.

This is where the future is built. It is gi­­gantic, impressive, full of energy and rises up from the Rhine river plains in the east of Mannheim: Großkraftwerk Mannheim AG is already now one of the region’s most important electricity and district heat producers. With the biggest single investment project in its history in the new coal block 9, the company is now creating an outstanding historical milestone in the amount of 1.2 billion euros.



Relocation to the second largest con­struc­tion site of the square town. The con­­struc­tion company Diringer & Schei­del in Mannheim is investing about 310 million euros in the new city quarter Q 6 Q 7 located directly in the city cen­tre. It is the biggest project downtown since the construction of the Mannheim Castle: a five star superior hotel, a block of 86 flats as well as large areas for retail stores, offices, gastronomy, health and fitness will be erected on 153,000 square metres in the heart of Mannheim by 2016. Other investors are involved, too. Mod­ern and huge areas will be established for boutiques, first-class commercial en­­terprises and creative shops in the squares P2, P3, P5 and P7. In doing so, the city is once more demonstrating that it offers both citizens and visitors everything the lifestyle heart yearns for.


The building cranes are also in full ro­­tation at the Büropark Eastside ­­– at breathtaking speeds. The renowned de­­veloper Peter Gaul is erecting one office building after another – an area on which about 1,500 people will find a job by 2015. The tenants: medical technology companies, a sector the city particularly supports, but also international law firms as well as tax consultants and financial auditors.

Economic potential is enticing. In au­tumn 2011, Cadcon, a specialist for engineer­ing services, opened up a branch office in Mannheim. The reasons for the decision: the expansion of its expertise and the location Mannheim. Many companies listed on the stock exchange and therefore potential customers are represented in the region. The location of­­fers a lot of opportunities for engineering service providers like Cadcon.

From ABB, Bilfinger, Bombardier, Daimler and John Deere to Roche Diagnostics and SCA, the traditionally rich industrial enter­­prises in Mannheim are of course pillars of the city’s economic success. Nonethe­less, the service sector is gaining more and more importance. A development that speaks for itself: about 70 per cent of the total of 171,000 job places liable to social insurance deductions belong to the service sector.

Ideas become innovations. Being just as diversified as successful, Mannheim’s industrial tradition is enthusing and in­­spiring more and more young, creative companies. As early as 1999, the fashion designer Dorothee Schuhmacher set­­tled for the industrial flair of the Mann­heim waterfront area – today it is her home away from home and the cradle of her unique success in fashion. In Mann­­heim, so she says, she can feel the sym­­pathy for creative people and free think­ers like Goethe, Schiller, Lessing and Vol­­taire everywhere. The people from Mann­heim have maintained this sort of open­ness. There has always been this innovative spirit in Mannheim. After all, the bicycle and the car were invented here – as well as the spaghetti ice cream. The incredible, true spaghetti ice cream saga began in 1933. In this year, Mario Fontanella emigrated from the Dolo­mites to Mannheim and settled in this location because it reminded him so much of Italy “due to the mild climate, the vineyards in the area and the beautiful wom­en”. Some years later, culinary history was written in the newly opened ice cream parlour in the squares. His son Dario Fontanella made a fateful acquaintance: with the Spät­zle press. The spaghetti ice cream was born.

Existenzgründungsstadt Nr. 1 in Baden-Württemberg. Für Existenzgründer wie Mario Fontanella ist Mannheim schon immer eine Top-Adresse. Bei Neu­grün­dungen belegt die Stadt in Baden-Würt­temberg stets einen Spitzenplatz. Ein Erfolg, der auch dem Kompetenz­netz­werk „Start im Quadrat“ zu verdanken ist. Dieses engagierte Netzwerk unter­stützt unter der Federführung der Wirt­schaftsförderung der Stadt Mannheim Start-ups und arbeitet dafür eng mit den fünf Existenzgründungszentren zusammen: Musikpark, MAFINEX-Technolo­gie­­zentrum, das bis 2015 um rund 5.000 Quadratmeter erweitert wird, Deutsch-Türkisches Wirtschaftszentrum, Altes Volksbad sowie das Existenzgründungs­zentrum für Frauen gig7. Und es werden noch mehr. Ein weiteres Kreativwirt­schafts­zentrum entsteht derzeit im Stadt­teil Jungbusch. Ein Inkubator-Zentrum für junge Unternehmen aus der Medizin­technologie ist in Planung. Neben der Medizintechnik wird die Förderung der Kreativwirtschaft und von Hightech-Firmen in Mannheim großgeschrieben.

A place full of science, culture and op­­por­tunities. The university scene is as versatile as the city itself. 5,000 graduates take their exams each year here. In addition to the ideal logistics location and the high standard of living, the city offers a huge potential for companies and a major locational factor which many companies value as one of the most im­­portant criteria for settling. The best business economists are trained at the University of Mannheim, as personnel man­­agers of German companies once again confirmed for the eleventh time in succession in a survey carried out by the “Wirtschaftswoche” in the year 2012. Mannheim is the top university for stud­­ying Industrial Engineering. An equal model for success is the Duale Hoch­schule Baden-Württemberg Mannheim, which cooperates with 2,000 companies from the region and all over Germany. The Popakademie, the first University of Popular Music and Music Business in Germany, founded in 2003, shows that pioneering ideas are also realised in the scientific field.
The housing offer is currently optimised to ensure that young graduates stay in Mannheim even after taking their exams. Thus a new city quarter is created in the Glückstein-Quartier – providing space for numerous workplaces, but also of­­fering space for high demands. In addition to the direct partnership with the University and the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, the quarter scores on account of its location. With its direct connections to the railway station and the motorway, the Glückstein-Quartier is ideally positioned in terms of traffic.


The by far largest construction project in Mannheim bears enormous potential for the city’s development: the areas of the US army. More than 510 hectares of conversion sites will be available by 2015 – a huge opportunity, which Mann­­heim will use to promote qualitative growth in the years to come. The Turley Barracks will be the pilot project. The predominantly historic houses are currently being rebuilt to become apartments and commercial premises. The Taylor Barracks stand for the mobility of the future: a series of tests has started here for electric buses by Bombardier. The Spinelli Barracks symbolise green Mannheim. In September 2013, the peo­ple from Mannheim decided to host the German National Garden Show 2023.


By the way, the square town takes a leading position when it comes to quality of life already today. The events in the SAP arena, but also the exhibitions of the major museums in Mannheim, rem, Kunsthalle and Technoseum attract vis­itors from all over Germany and from foreign countries. And this is also interesting for the economy. Just one example: the 50 million euros donation of SAP co-founder Hans-Werner Hector and his wife Josephine made the new construction of the internationally recognised Kunst­halle Mannheim possible. The foun­­dation board is chaired by the entrepre­neur Dr. Manfred Fuchs from Mannheim. His credo: the economy needs attractive locations in the competition for the best brains. In this regard, art and culture play a special role. But Mannheim’s plans go even further: the candidacy to become a European Capital of Culture is part of the city strategy.

IMG_5085-KopieThe author is a jurist and has been the mayor of Mannheim since 17 June 2007. From 1984 to 1989, he was a district coun­­cillor of Schwetzingerstadt/Oststadt in Mannheim and after that a city council­lor in Mannheim until 1999. In early 1994, Kurz chaired the SPD’s city council and held the office until 1999. In 1999, he assumed the office as full-time mayor for education, culture and sports.