The county of Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen is one of the southern regions of the Munich Metropolitan Region (MMR) and its economy is based on a strong commerce and industry sector, particularly in the area around the combined county centre of Geretsried and Wolfratshausen, as well as on a great potential for tourism in its southern part. The attractive tourist destination of “Tölzer Land”, including the well-known towns of Bad Tölz, Lenggries and Kochel am See, is one of the reasons why it is justified to say “Work where others spend their holidays.”
With this in mind, many of our local decision makers from business and politics have meanwhile come to the conclusion that regions will only be able to compete successfully for an increasingly scarce workforce if they cater for the specific needs of families as well. This is why in the county of Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen, already in 2005, the regional location marketing initiative “WirtschaftsForum Oberland”, which is run by municipalities, firms and business associations, started its activities in this field by holding a survey among local firms. Another working group dealing with this topic was established in 2009 as part of the economic development policy at MMR level. In collaboration with regional stakeholders and the CCI for Munich and Upper Bavaria, this working group has the purpose of making the issue of family friendliness a trademark of the Munich Metropolitan Region.
In addition to the well-known – though still significant – regional prerequisites for industrial and commercial development, such as transport infrastructure, commercial property prices, local availability of qualified workforce and many more, a region’s attractiveness for families has been given increasing attention by decision makers in recent years. Highly qualified people, who are crucial to a company’s economic success, tend to be flexible and mobile and at the point of deciding on a new employer, which usually involves a new place of residence, they give much importance to an attractive environment. If those highly skilled women and men have families with children, the availability of adequate child-care facilities, leisure opportunities or active sports clubs will often tip the balance. Therefore municipalities and businesses should, in their own best interest, seek to shape the environment in such a way that it has something to offer to educated young families.
To towns and municipalities in particular, it is of vital importance to retain companies in the area and encourage new firms to locate there; because providing employment is the only way to keep young people from emigrating, and in the best of cases, young families will even move to the region. The consequences for municipalities disproportionately affected by emigration are already obvious in many regions across Germany.
To obtain more detailed information about the situation in the county of Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen, the WirtschaftsForum Oberland initiative commissioned a regional evaluation of the 2007 Family Atlas issued by the Prognos research institute. Meanwhile, an online questionnaire was initiated in cooperation with local business associations, which yielded more than 500 qualified responses. The evaluation of the analysis and survey gave the following results: In the Oberland area, initial conditions are favourable in that people strongly identify with their region and appreciate what is referred to as “soft” location factors. However, deficits were revealed regarding the arrangement of working hours and availability of child-care facilities, mainly for under three-year-olds. Flexible working hours and well-functioning day-care during school holidays are high on parents’ agendas, as this would help them to balance work and family.
In view of these results, companies, municipalities and associations agreed that everybody has an obligation – within their respective capacities and areas of responsibility – to contribute to addressing these issues, which affect the society as a whole. By now, several companies and municipalities have started cooperating in child-care projects, which are further expanded. WirtschaftsForum Oberland, which is also a member of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs’ business network “Success Factor Family”, acts as an information platform for businesses. The Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen county, WirtschaftsForum Oberland and all stakeholders in the region consider this as an adequate approach to strengthen the Oberland area in the competition between regions.
Josef Niedermaier was born in Munich in 1963. After completing grammar school, training as a baker and qualifying as a master craftsman, he took over and expanded the family business in Bad Tölz. In 1996, he became a city councillor in Bad Tölz, in 1999, third mayor and since 20 May 2000, he has been the first mayor. On 1 May 2008, he took office as district administrator of the Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen county.