Johanna Rumschöttel: Munich county – The “golden ring” of the metropolis

The state capital of Munich is the un­­dis­puted core of the metropolitan area, but the region too, is very important, mainly as a recognized centre of business and industry. Let us, for example, look at the county of Munich, which almost complete­­ly surrounds the state capital like a “gol­­d­­en ring”.

With its approximately 320,000 inhabit­ants, the county of Munich, which in an area of 667 square kilometres compris­es two towns and 27 municipalities, is the third most populous administrative unit in Bavaria behind the city of Munich and Nuremberg, not counting the city districts. It enjoys great popularity as an attractive place to live and do business.

This is not only due to the excellently de­­veloped transport infrastructure including eight motorways, a dense network of public transport services (suburban and underground railways, regional bus lines) and the proximity to Munich Airport at Erdinger Moos.

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Business and science – successful partners in Munich county
A key factor for the significance of the county of Munich as an economic location is its status as a centre of science. Munich county is globally renowned for its four university locations (Garching, Martinsried, Neubiberg, Oberschleiß­heim) and numerous research institutions (in­­cluding six Max Planck Institutes, the München II research reactor, research facilities of EADS, the Allianz Insurance Group and General Electric). Several start-up centres in the vicinity of the universities provide room for young people to realize their ideas. One of the distinguish­­ing features of the region is the intensive cooperation between business and science, which makes sure that research findings are rapidly translated into mar­­ketable products.
This said, the large proportion of high­­ly qualified employees is not surprising. 21.1 per cent of the working population have a university level degree, while the German average is 7.8 per cent.

Balanced mix of industries and company sizes

The corporate landscape is characterized by a balanced mix of industries and com­­pany sizes and focuses on future-orien­t­­ed areas such as media, aerospace, bio­­technology, financial services, medicine and health care as well as communications and information technology.
In terms of productivity, the county takes first place in Germany (129,420 euros/resident – German-wide: 58,299 euros).

Nevertheless, the prosperity of a re­­gion does not merely depend on its econom­­ic power – actually, a number of additio­nal factors are necessary to fuel a strong business region. For ex­­am­­ple, Mu­­­­nich county has also an ex­­cel­lent so­­cial infra­structure. This in­­cludes a needs-oriented provision of child-care facilities, pro­­active youth work and ad­­e­­­­­­quate nursing services which are con­­­­tinuously adjusted to changing re­­­quire­ments. Increasing con­­sideration is be­­­­­­­ing given to social shifts and problems, for instance by establishing a well-developed network of advisory serv­­­­­­ices and an anti-poverty programme. Another priority issue is educational pol­­icy. A schools de­­vel­op­ment plan has been drawn up to show decision makers the way towards providing future-oriented educational offers at secondary school level.

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Forward-looking policy includes protecting the environment
Even though the county of Munich ranks first in all relevant league tables na­­tion­wide, it has to face the ever-chang­­ing eco­­logical challenges. To achieve this, the county council decided upon an En­­­­ergy Vision in 2006, which aims to re­­duce the energy de­­mand by 60 per cent and cover the remaining demand en­­tire­­ly from re­­newable resources by 2050. In the on­­going implementation, saving energy, the use of geothermal energy and the energy-efficient refurbishment of buildings are of key im­­por­­tance, the latter having a particularly positive ef­­­fect on the local construction sector.

Additional soft location factors include cul­­tural and social events and leisure fa­­cili­ties. The magnificent sights of the county, from Schäftlarn Abbey and Schleiß­­heim Palace to the abundant and diverse re­­mains of settlements left behind by Celts and Romans, comple­ment the rich cul­­tural heritage of the state capital. Many people are actively involved in club and church activities and the number of lei­­sure opportunities, both indoor and in natural sur­­roundings, is immense. To pre­­serve the diversity of this multifaceted natural environment despite increased development pressures, is a particularly demanding task for local policy makers.

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Each crisis opens opportunities
In view of the present economic crisis, the significance of providing a broad ba­­sis for the county of Munich to es­­tablish itself as a business centre, once again becomes very clear. Forecasts are difficult to make at present, but in most cases crises hold chances as well. No doubt, the links between in­­dus­­try and commerce, science and gov­­ernment must be further developed if we want to emerge from this crisis stronger than before. The intensified cooperation within the metropolitan re­­gion will contribute a lot to this.

From the very beginning, the political decision makers in the county have ac­­tively participated in setting up the ini­­tiative to strengthen the Munich Me­­tro­politan Region MMR. In a catchment area of 5.4 million residents, which generates more than 50 per cent of the Bavarian gross domestic product, all parties involved benefit from great­­er collaboration. Intensive cooperation exponentially increases the wide range of existing expertise and strengths. In an ever fiercer European and international competition, the joint marketing of the region will yield significant ad­­vantages for all inhabitants.

And what is obviously true for the county of Munich is also true for the entire catchment area of the region: The state capital and the rural municipalities to­­gether reap the benefits of increased collaboration within the MMR.

J-R-Motiv2008-groThe author, born in 1946, has been the county commissioner of Munich county since 2008. From 2000 to 2008, the grad­­uated librarian, social education worker and cultural manager Johanna Rum­schöt­­tel was the first mayor of Neubiberg, prior to that she headed the cultural department of Unterhaching. Since 2009, she has been the deputy chairwoman of MMR.