Dr. Ulrich Schückhaus: A lot of room for new ideas

Dr. Ulrich Schückhaus, general manager of Entwicklungsgesellschaft Mönchengladbach (EWMG) and Business Developement Corporation Mönchengladbach (WFMG) in an interview on development projects and other potential development options for the Mönchengladbach business location.

Mönchengladbach’s economic structure has altered considerably over the last few decades. Which sectors characterise the cityscape today? Formerly known as “Manchester on the Rhine”, Mönchengladbach was once an almost mono-structural traditional location of the tex­­tile and clothing industry. Today, the city of over 260,000 residents is extremely versatile and characterised by a balanced sectoral mix. As well as the textile and clothing industries, which are still located here, its mechanical engineering, plant engineering, metal processing and electrical engineering industries have an excellent international reputation. Due to Mönchengladbach’s spe­cial geographical location and ideal transport links, the logistics industry has also developed into an employment motor here over the last ten years. And the health sector and information and communication technology are also some of the leading sectors at the Mönchengladbach business location.

The large number of major projects in the real estate sector and the continued impetus from implementation pro­­jects in the urban masterplan MG3.0 show clearly the dynamic change by Mönchengladbach into an attractive and modern business location. Ideal examples are the Minto shopping centre, which was opened in March 2015, or the Hugo Junkers Hangar at Mönchengladbach Air­­port, which will prove an irresistible attraction nationwide as an extraordinary event location starting in June 2015. International investors have also confirmed this view to us in meetings. Mönchengladbach is beginning to flourish – and it is being noticed.

What can Mönchengladbach offer companies? Mönchen­g­­ladbach offers companies extremely favourable conditions such as a wide range of mixed, commercial and industrial areas which can also be subdivided depending on individual requirements. Being located between the Rhine, the Ruhr region and the Benelux countries also makes it possible to distribute flows of goods through­­out Germany and the rest of Europe. Up to 15 million potential customers can thus be targeted within a radius of only 100 kilometres.

The company head offices of the van Laack fashion company.

The company head offices of the van Laack fashion company.

The German head office of Santander Consumer Bank AG.

The German head office of Santander Consumer Bank AG.

Transport links are also ideal. Four autobahns, two central railway stations, its own business airport and the nearby airports in Cologne and Düsseldorf link the city with the world. Major river ports (Duisburg, Krefeld, Venlo and Neuss) and sea ports (Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam) are easy to reach. Although metropolitan regions such as Cologne or Düsseldorf are nearby, the property prices for commercial land and buildings in Mönchengladbach are still moderate. Not to be forgotten when making a decision on a company (re-)location are the soft location factors. Mönchengladbach lives up to its reputation as a major regional centre, offering attractive and extensive sports and cultural amenities. Special mention should be made at this point of the football team Borussia Mönchengladbach, which enjoys an excellent reputation internationally and is the city’s figurehead.

In addition, the intensive efforts of the WFMG over the last few years have created company networks within the leading industries from whose synergy effects the entire location benefits. Examples are the “LOG4MG – Logistikini­tiative Mönchengladbach” (Mönchengladbach logistics initiative) and networks in the major industries of textiles and clothing sector, together with mechanical and plant engineering.

What opportunities does Mönchengladbach offer Investors? At the moment there is a wide range of attractive potential commercial land for investors in the city area, which is currently being developed or even marketed. Examples are the Croonsquartier, an area of 6,000 square metres in an ideal inner city location, which is located directly by the newly-opened Minto shopping centre. We see much potential for this land to be developed as a high-quality residential and office area.
Also currently being developed is the land in the “City-Ost” in the eastern part of the city and measuring about eight hectares. In an ideal inner city location and right next to the central railway station, this is an integral part of the master plan. The intention is to develop a modern office and services location embedded in a natural landscape with expanses of water.

The former Nordpark development site in the northern part of the city already lends itself to construction of office buildings. The successful concept of a high-quality and representative business park in a sporting setting is being continued in the Business-Park II. This combination is aimed particularly at international users and investors; other major companies as well as small and medium-sized ones have already obtained land for their head offices next to the new Santander Consumer Bank building.

DSC_8485-kopierenDr. Ulrich Schückhaus
The author has been the general manager of WFMG – Business Development Corporation Mönchen­­gladbach since 1999 and chairman of EWMG – Ent­­­­wicklungs­­gesellschaft der Stadt Mönchengladbach mbH since 2009. After completing a traineeship as a bank officer, he went to study in Cologne and in the USA. Before moving to WFMG, he worked at the University of Cologne and then at Kienbaum management consultants, lastly as partner responsible for the municipal sector.