Günther Knoblauch: “Made In(n) Salzach” – A strong region on the rise

A strong combination of economic pow­­er and idyllic countryside – is that possible?
The Inn-Salzach league of towns, situated to the east of the Munich metropolis and including the towns of Altötting, Aschau on the Inn, Burgkirchen and Garching on the Alz, Mühldorf upon Inn, Neumarkt-Sankt Veit, Töging on the Inn and Eggen­­felden, is the best proof.

The economic region of Inn-Salzach is tra­­versed by the rivers Inn and Salzach. In keeping with their motto “in the middle of things”, the region to the east of Mu­­nich has moved closer to the heart of the European Union as a consequence of the EU’s eastward expansion. About 230,000 people live in the centre of the city triangle formed by Munich, Passau and Salzburg, some 70,000 work for lo­­cal companies.

The region is characterized by combined economic power, traditional Bavarian cul­­ture and spacious natural surroundings. Driven by the engine of the chemical in­­dustry, the sectors of mechanical and electrical engineering, plastics, automo­­tive supply and food are also strongly represented in the metropolitan area.


The Chemical Triangle, which is well known beyond the borders of Bavaria, has also made a name for itself at international level. The Inn-Salzach league of towns at­­­taches special importance to good re­­lations with Russia, which manifests it­­self in the partnership agreement with the North-Eastern Administrative District of Moscow.
Since the start of the 21st century, the Triangle has become a pivotal point of the chemical industry in Germany. About 30 local companies generate approximately eight billion euros in turnover every year.

The Industrial Park Werk Gendorf is the centrepiece of the Triangle. The “factory in the countryside” was developed from a former site of the Hoechst group in the 1990s. The majority of companies located in the vicinity of Burgkirchen are active in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.
Over 20 firms have established their plants here on more than two square kilometres.
The chemistry is right here. The short dis­­tances between several companies of the same sector determine the attractiveness of the location and enable a special form of training. Dual vocational training tak­­ing place both at the industrial park’s own Training Center and in the nearby companies provides young people with broad knowledge of the industry and the opportunity to learn how processes are executed in different firms.

Clariant, Linde or Klöckner Pentaplast are just some of the renowned companies that are based in the industrial town. But young, innovative firms such as Lambda­­Chem GmbH & Co. KG are just as im­­por­­tant for the flourishing industry. This start-up business was originally founded as a students’ project at Ludwig-Maxi­mi­­lians University and took first place in the Munich Business Plan Competition in 2003. In 2004 and 2005, the firm, supported by “Flügge”, the University’s programme for company founders, spotted a gap in the market for plastics with fluorescent effects. Among other things, the young entrepreneurs developed an innovative protection system against the increasing product piracy.


Made In(n)-Salzach” – the manufacturing trade, too, makes its contribution to the economic power of the region. More than 4,000 medium-sized firms and skilled-trade businesses employ about 16,000 people. Together, they ge­­n­­­erate approximately 1.75 billion euros annually. The skilled-trade enterprises have responded to the high quality re­­quirements of the industry by improving the quality of their offerings: The re­­gion advertises with the slogan “convincing quality”. And that’s right: Many of the local companies are certified ac­­cording to European standards in the areas of quality, environment and safety at work.

The infrastructure links with industrial companies and the proximity to Austria have enabled many skilled-trade businesses to maintain their position even in international markets. This applies par­­ticularly to all sectors of civil engineering, manufacturing systems and mechanical engineering, tank construc­­tion, electrical engineering, thermal en­­gineering and pipeline construction. The number of patent applications in the coun­­ty of Altötting alone is twice as high as the German average, which attests to the innovative spirit of the manufacturing industry.

The trade and services sector, providing jobs for more than 30,000 people, is a major pillar of the economy and its importance is increasing. As a result of the high spending power, the region has experienced a significant growth in em­­ployment over the past ten years. The number of jobs in the services industry rose by more than 60 per cent. The pro­­­­viders of services have adjusted their business processes to suit the requirements of regional firms and offer customized services. Their portfolio ranges from transport and information tech­­nology to insurance services to advertising and education offers.
In order to strengthen cooperation among local companies, the Inn-Salzach league of towns initiated regular business talks called “Unternehmer-Dialog” (business owners’ dialogue). The series of events started in 2004 and it includes specialist presentations and guided plant tours at varying host venues. The primary pur­­pose of these get-togethers is to ex­­change experiences, to learn more about local com­­panies and to establish contacts. The talks take place four times a year.





While taking advantage of the rural en­­vironment, the local companies benefit from the proximity of the big city and its optimized logistics and transport in­­fra­­structures. These include flight connec­­tions from the international airports of Munich and Salzburg, a well-developed rail network, rapid access to the adjoining motorways as well as the fair grounds in Munich.

The league of town’s slogan “work where others spend their holidays” reflects the interrelation between the economy, tour­­ism and the natural environment, which in this economic region form a powerful combination. Surrounded by spacious land­­scapes and large forests, the region offers a high quality of life: Long-es­­tab­­lished cultural structures and a variety of leisure and tourist attractions are part of it. Whether cycling tours, exten­­ded hik­­ing excursions in natural surround­­ings, golfing or farm holidays – the re­­gion offers a large variety of leisure ac­­ti­­vities for holiday makers as well as for local residents.



Between the historic little towns of the sur­­rounding area, visitors can explore lots of green countryside and fields, forests, peaceful villages with farms or ela­­b­­orately designed churches and monas­­teries. Skilfully decorated town houses with red roofs or picturesque arcades in cosy town squares represent the typical architecture of the region between Inns­­bruck and Passau. In this area, Ba­­va­­rian traditions are an intrinsic part of every­­day life. Just an hour’s drive from Mu­­nich, visitors can experience an authentic bit of Upper Bavaria.
Spirituality is an integral part of it all. As the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI, the small town of Marktl has achieved ce­­le­­b­­rity status, particularly among pilgrims, many of whom come to visit it.

The Pope’s special ties with the region between the rivers Inn and Salzach were the reason why the “Benedict Trail” was named in his honour. The 248-kilometre pilgrimage route starts at the “papal lime tree”, which was planted by Pope John Paul II in the Bruder-Konrad square of Altötting in 1980. A section of the Way of St. James also crosses the medieval town. It is one of the eight municipalities that form an integral part of the re­­gion’s league of towns.
Altötting has been considered the spiritual centre of Bavaria for more than 1,250 years. For more than 500 years, the town has been the most important Marian pilgrimage site in Germany. In 2008, the Pope conferred the “Golden Rose” on the town. Altötting was the first German Marian sanctuary ever to re­­ceive these high papal honours. Every year, more than a million pilgrims come to visit the “Black Madonna” in the “Cha­­p­­el of the Miraculous Image”.

Representing all facets that are typical of Bavaria, the Inn-Salzach league of towns is a powerful economic area in the Munich Metropolitan Region. It provides evidence of econo­­m­­ic success in rural areas.


Knoblauch-MÜThe author, born in 1948, has been a mem­­ber of the city council since 1978 and of the county council since 1984. He worked in the upper grade of the civil service be­­fore he was elected mayor of the town of Mühldorf upon Inn in 1990. Since 2003, he has been the deputy chief executive of the county council. He is also the dis­­trict head of the county’s Upper Bava­rian members of the Bavarian Asso­cia­­tion of Cities and Towns.