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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.