Matthias Wilkes: Corporate landscape Bergstraße ­– Bridge building between Main river and Neckar river

Its membership of both the metropolitan regions Frankfurt/Rhein-Main (Rhine-Main) and Rhein-Neckar (Rhine-Neckar) creates a unique selling point for the Bergstraße district. No other adminis­­tra­­tive district in the greater region be­­longs to two metropolitan regions. In its metropolitan position, which lies mid­­­way be­­tween Frankfurt am Main and Heidel­­berg, it has unique connection options and an excellent transport infra­­struc­­ture as well: Europe’s freight airport number one, the Frankfurt Inter­­na­­­­tional Airport, is lo­­cated 25 Minutes away and the Euro­­pean long-distance connec­­tions A5 Zürich-Ham­­burg, A6 Paris-Prag and A67 Straß­­burg-Frank­­furt can be reached quickly from every company. The ICE train station in Bensheim offers direct connec­tions to Zürich, Stutt­­gart and Frank­­furt am Main and there exist high-speed road­­­­ways to Karlsruhe-Basel, Stutt­­gart-München, Darmstadt-Berlin, Frankfurt am Main-Köln, and from Mann­­heim and Frank­­furt to Paris as well. Fur­­ther­­more, Europe’s second largest inland port is situated nearby in Mann­heim and a contain­­er terminal is located five kilo­metres away in Gernsheim as well.

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Der internationale Flughafen in Frankfurt ist die zentrale Verkehrsdrehscheibe der Region.

Der internationale Flughafen in Frankfurt ist die zentrale Verkehrsdrehscheibe der Region.

As a business location, the economic region Bergstraße has been the driver of development in Südhessen for decades. About 16,000 industrial, service and tradecraft companies make up the economic backbone of the Berg­­straße district. Along­­side a flourishing midmarket, some global players like Suzuki, SAP, BASF, Sirona or TE Connectivity have also lo­­cated themselves here. Numerous small and medium-sized companies have estab­­­­lished themselves as service companies and suppliers for internat­­ional companies.

Throughout Germany, the economic re­­gion is famous for its motley sector mix, which makes it more crisis-resistant than other locations and offers attractive op­­por­­tunities to workforces from many sectors. As part of a scientific study, the consulting firm Expert­­Consult identified twelve competence fields in the economic region Bergstraße which push its economic de­­vel­­opment: chem­­ical as well as plastic and rubber indus­­­­try, phar­­ma­­­­ceu­­tics and biotechnology, medical tech­­nol­­ogy, automation, technology for meas­­ur­­ing, control and regu­lation, me­­chan­­ical engi­­neering, software and telecommu­­nication, food and healthcare in­­dustry, auto­­mo­­tive and vehicle industry, logistics and pack­­aging as well as article surveillance and labelling, environmental and energy indus­­tries.

 

The companies located here appreciate the Bergstraße district as a business lo­­ca­­tion, which wins people over with its skilled work­­force. With its education and ad­­vanced training opportunities, the region is placed in the European Top 10 ranking. The uni­­versities of Heidelberg, Mann­­heim and Frankfurt am Main, the Technische Uni­­ver­­sität and the Hochschule Darm­­stadt, the Hochschule Ludwigshafen am Rhein, the Fachhochschule Worms and the Duale Hoch­schule Baden-Württem­­berg Mann­­­­heim offer the right conditions, not only for scien­­tific cooperation, but also to gain highly qualified employees and exec­­utives. Many possibilities of further educa­­tion com­­plete the offering for em­­ployees in the companies. Examples in­­clude in particular the Zentrum für Mathe­­matik in Bens­­heim, the Odenwald-Insti­­tut of the Karl Kübel Stiftung in Wald-Michelbach and the Kreishand­­­­wer­­ker­­­schaft Berg­­straße as well as the “Industrie- und Handels­­kam­­mer Darmstadt Rhein-Main Neckar”.

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The so-called “soft” location factors should not be underestimated, because the Berg­straße district is not only very attractive as a business location, but also scores points with many tourism features. The econ­­omic region includes a total of 22 cities and communities, and is divided into four subregions of Bergstraße, Neckar­­tal, Oden­­­­wald and Hessisches Ried, each of which is known for its economic, cultural and scenic charms. Thus, the wine-growing area Hessische Bergstaße is known for its fine wines. The Odenwald, the Hessische Ried and the Neckar­­tal also guar­­antee high level of life quality in the Berg­­straße district. Many castles and fortresses invite exploration, the Niebelungensteig continuously attracts hikers. You can find a number of locations with popular routes for mountain biking or Geopark Rangers invite you to explore nature. Regular wine festivals are always a magnet for vis­­itors. Kloster Lorsch, which is an UNESCO World Heritage site, is a popular destination and attracts many tourists from home and abroad all year.

Furthermore, culture enthusiasts can find open air festivals, music and other events here among those offered in the area of music and theatre. The Bensheimer Festi­­val “Vogel der Nacht”, which includes comedy, theatre and live music, which is a popular crowd puller, or the international street theatre festival “Gassensensationen” in Heppenheim are some examples.

Because of its picturesque environment, the region has repeatedly been a popular film lo­­cation for na­­tional and in­­ter­­na­­tional film produc­­tions. Back in 2006, Indian film makers recognised the po­­­­ten­­tial of the Bergstraße region as a movie lo­­cation and Bollywood movies like “Humraah – The Traitor” and “Aap Kaa Surroor” were realised there. This was fol­­lowed by high-quality productions from Ger­­many. The economic region Berg­­straße benefits from these film productions be­­­cause they contribute to both an increase in publicity and an economical and touristic development of the region. An official study confirmed the po­­­­si­­tive effects of the film indus­­try on tourism in the Bergstraße district. Thus an increase of overnight stays from 2,512 Indians in 2008 up to 7,450 in 2010 was there to be seen.

Companies from home and abroad which want to settle in the Bergstraße district or ex­­isting firms which want to extend their operations can make use of about 100 hectares of commercial and industrial area. The business development programme Berg­­straße GmbH offers investors from home and abroad a high number of services and counsels them on all questions of relocating there in individual, personal and professional aspects.

Landrat-Profilbild_2012-KopieBorn in Dortmund in 1959, he studied law and worked for the Karl Kübel Stiftung until his nomination as the district admin­­istrator of the Bergstraße district in 2003. Matthias Wilkes is, inter alia, supervisory board chairman and chairman of the general meeting of the Gesellschafter­versammlung of Bergstraße GmbH and he is a member of the executive board of Zukunft Rhein-Neckar (Rhine-Neckar) e.V.