Michael Ebling: Mainz – Liveable, high levels of start-ups and economically well-positioned

The city of Mainz, the state capital of the Rhineland-Palatinate, is a much sought-after university city with some 40,000 students, a “hip”, creative city on the edge of the prospering Rhine-Main region and an attractive tourist attraction with its own famous son Johannes Gutenberg, the “Man of the Millennium”. Contrary to all demographic trends, the population of Mainz has increased in size over the last ten years by almost 15,000.

Mainz is “in”, it is attractive, a good place to live and has a highly attractive environment with its Rheinhessen region and the Rheingau on the other bank of the Rhine. It is a pulsating business location and is extremely popular with young people as a creative workshop. It is no coincidence that the number of business start-ups in Mainz is outstanding when compared with the rest of Germany. So there are many reasons for companies to seek and find their fortune in Mainz …

Anyone living and working in Mainz has the best opportunities for the future in Germany. This is confirmed by numerous current surveys, most recently the “Zukunftsatlas 2016” (2016 Future Atlas) by the Prognos Institute. This survey found that, at ninth place, Mainz was one of the “top ten” in the category Business and Employment Market.

A triumvirate: a strong economy, innovative research and a high-quality tertiary education sector. These results are no coincidence. Over the last few years, Mainz has laid the foundations for a successful future with a triumvirate of a strong commercial sector, innovative research facilities and a top-class tertiary education sector. The economy of Mainz can be safely de­­scribed as strong, modern and internationally competitive, due not least to its excellent framework conditions. Its central location in a growth region, attractive transport links to autobahns, air transport and inland waterways, the great availability of skilled employees with the university and other institutions of tertiary education and good broadband access are location advantages that provide companies in Mainz with many benefits.

 

Like almost the entire company landscape in Rhineland-Palatinate, the economy of Mainz is characterised mainly by small and medium-sized companies. It is noticeable that many small and medium-sized companies – some highly specialised – convince through their entrepreneurial innovation. Companies in numerous sectors such as commerce, the trades, logistics, research and development, services and manufacturing are represented in the designated commercial and industrial zones.

The diversity of companies based in Mainz not only guarantees a very diverse sectoral mix that spreads the burden on the employment market over “many shoulders” in hard economic times, but it ensures the city’s economic success over the long term. The fact that municipalities do not, in fact, depend on a single main player – and its possible economic fluctuations – is not to be underestimated.

These include partial setbacks. The sun naturally does not shine brightly every day over the “Karneval” stronghold of Mainz. There are also moments ­of reflection and bitter setbacks in which long and traditional eras come to an end. The announced closure of long-­standing companies such as the production locations of Nestlé and Cargill are a hard blow to Mainz as an industrial location. These were also decisions over which the city authorities had no influence. The motives of the top corporate managements were primarily of a strategic nature but by definition remain “hard to take”. As a national league football location, events such as these have to be taken in a sporting manner – as an incentive to improve the doubtless favourable framework conditions: “better” is the sister of “good”.

Besides the traditional companies that have been firmly rooted in Mainz, such as SCHOTT, Werner & Mertz, Römheld & Moelle, ZDF, Mainzer Stadtwerke and SWR, increasing numbers of younger companies are settling here. The number of company relocations in particular has resulted in a high level of dynamism in the commercial landscape.

An extremely lively start-up scene. Mainz’ start-up scene in particular has great potential. Mainz gained an outstanding first place in the 2015 DekaBank city ranking due to its very high level of company start-ups. Due to the good work of the local start-up advice centres, Mainz has succeeded in becoming the motor for start-ups in Rhineland-Palat­inate, in particular in the media, creative and IT industries.

We are happy for this trend to continue. Mainz keeps sufficiently large areas of commercial land available – including for future re­­lo­­cations – such as in the commercial estate in Hechtsheim. The relocations there by Deublin (170 jobs), Köbig Zentrallogistik, DHL, the Techniker Krankenkasse insurance fund (300 jobs) or Phytec Messtechnik are proof of the attractiveness of Mainz’ commercial estates.

The fact that Mainz’ economy is doing well – given a moderate un­­employment rate of 5.2 per cent currently – is shown by current em­­ployment market data. Since 2010, the number of employees obliged to pay social insurance contributions has risen by eight per cent. Today some 110,000 qualified and motivated employees have found jobs in Mainz – a record number. Living and working in the state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate is more popular than ever.

The positive development of the economy and the employment market is also the result of successful economic policies coupled with the efforts of the chambers of commerce and industry and industry associations. It remains our aim to retain and further expand this positive development in employment, growth and quality of life. I remain committed to ensuring that companies con­­tinue to find positive framework conditions in Mainz and that this situation will continue over the next few decades so that Mainz continues to enjoy the best possible opportunities for the future.

Infrastructure must keep pace: construction of residential housing is increasing. This is naturally accompanied by infra­­struc­­ture-related measures. By the year 2020, the city of Mainz will create some 6,500 new dwelling units in order to satisfy the continuing demand for accommodation. Much progress has been made in this area. New housing development areas such as the Mainz Zollhafen port or the Heiligkreuz area – just under 2,000 residential units will be created in this latter alone – are either being started or will be started in the near future. This in turn is accompanied by massive impetus for orders for the local construction industry. However, there is no reason to rest on our laurels. Mainz has been booming in many sectors for quite some time and we want to continue this trend in future years.

Michael Ebling
The author studied law in Mainz. In 2002 his career took a jump and he became full-time Deputy Mayor in charge of Social Affairs, Youth Affairs, Health and Housing in the Mainz city administration. In 2006 Michael Ebling started working as Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education, Science, Continuing Education and Culture of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate. He has been Chairman of the Mainz branch of the SPD party since 2008. He took up his position as the directly-elected Lord Mayor of Mainz on 12 April 2012.