Josef Niedermaier: Cooperation between companies and local stakeholders promotes regional potential

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.

benediktbeuern_kloster

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.

 

0107

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.

 

0085

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.

Foto-NiedermaierJosef 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.