Cities and regions are facing ever-increasing competition for investors and employers. The location and structural conditions – for example, a company’s given cooperation possibilities – represent a key competitive factor. The presence of network structures has been gaining increased importance over the past years. The economic development association “Wirtschaftsförderung Wiesbaden” was quick to recognize and prioritize the opportunity. The goal is to implement a variety of measures to support the cooperativeness of companies and to promote networks.
Besides classic economic promotion tasks such as acquiring new settlements, maintaining existing ones and marketing the location, initiating and supporting network- and cluster-forming processes have become a main focus of the Wirtschaftsförderung Wiesbaden.
While the spatial conditions for cluster formation previously were determined by natural resources such as mineral deposits and coastal location, nowadays those factors tend to play a more secondary role. Today’s favourable factors include the presence of skilled workers, universities, research facilities or specialized service providers. Supporting the cooperativeness of companies through cluster promotion makes the location attractive for further settlement in sectors and value-added chains. According to the results from several cluster studies, companies stand to profit from the excellent reputation of their location and to develop more dynamically in comparison with other locations.
Cluster and network formations can be influenced considerably by municipal economic policy, as is clearly evidenced by Wiesbaden’s activities in the consulting and logistics sectors. The state capital has acquired a transregional reputation as a competency provider for service clusters and has distinguished itself in a cluster competition organized by the state of Hessen.
The consulting competency network KNC has been around for several years now. Consulting is one of the key growth sectors in Wiesbaden. The city offers excellent conditions for the formation of clusters in that branch, thanks to the region’s supply and demand structure, the potential of skilled workers, the broad landscape of universities, and the outstanding transportation infrastructure with fast connections to anywhere in the world.
KNC is now an affiliation of consultants on a local and regional scale.
Its origin dates back to the results of the 2001 analysis of the economic location of Wiesbaden. It promotes the cooperation between larger consulting firms and smaller specialized providers. The cooperation partners include companies and institutions such as the European Business School (EBS), Arthur D. Little, Plenum AG, network consulting Rheinmain e.V., and the start-up agency EXINA e.V. The Wirtschaftsförderung Wiesbaden is in charge of the entire Rhine-Main region, as commissioned by the regional conference.
The master plan that was set up for Wiesbaden served as the base and provided the know-how transfer. The regional partners – Frankfurt, Bad Homburg and Eschborn – have developed their own location-specific initiatives.
The consulting competency network KNC has achieved an impressive number of goals: 600 registered members, regular local and regional meetings as well as a chair of consulting at the European Business School. KNC is a success story and has contributed vastly to the interconnectedness of the sector.
Wiesbaden has also set the course for the future in the logistics sector: At the behest of the Wirtschaftsförderung Wiesbaden, the Supply Chain Management Institute (SMI) of the European Business School has been devoted to the theme of logistics since 2005.
Wiesbaden is a particularly strong service location. The focus is clearly on knowledge-oriented services. They play a special role in connection with the increasing significance of logistics, purchase and supply chain management in global provision, production and distribution networks. The strategic positioning of Wiesbaden through the combination the two growth fields “logistics” and “knowledge”, thus, suggested itself.
To that effect, the setup of the “Logistik RheinMain” initiative was combined with an innovative labour market project. The human resources for the office of Logistik RheinMain were provided by means of project funds for the integration of the unemployed in the primary labour market. The SMI is in charge of the scientific aspect.
Wiesbaden is a crucial component of the logistics location of the Rhine-Main region. Since 2007, support has been given to the setup of the multi-state cluster initiative Logistik RheinMain, which reaches from Frankfurt to Wiesbaden and Mainz to Darmstadt and Aschaffenburg. The goal is to distinguish the region as a logistics location of global significance.
The current launch of the new House of Logistics and Mobility (HOLM) represents another clear signal for the region. The HOLM – established at the Frankfurt airport – is set up as a unique cooperation model between universities, businesses and the public sector. The tasks will include application-oriented research and project work in connection with logistics and mobility. The state capital of Wiesbaden is a founding member of the HOLM.
In order to systematically explore and expand the existing strengths of the state capital and Rhine-Main region in the field of industry and service clusters, Wiesbaden plans to join forces with the Supply Chain Management Institute of the European Business School to set up the Center for Clusters and Competitiveness (WI3C).
The practice-oriented research of the WI3C, training and further education as well as initiatives, projects and events in future-oriented sectors such as logistics, health care, creative economy and professional services are to strategically position Wiesbaden and the Rhine-Main region and to increase their competitiveness for the long term.
The success of the consulting competency network KNC and Logistik RheinMain confirms the leading role of Wiesbaden when it comes to developing network structures. Positive effects are also expected in terms of employment, whether through successful employment promotion measures within the framework of a project or through settlement effects. In the long term, Wiesbaden is investing in a future-oriented way of securing lasting economic power and employment.
The author was born in 1963. After training to be a hotel clerk, he studied economics. After various positions in the private sector, at the university hospital of Gießen and in the Hessian Ministry for economic affairs and the arts, he has been leading the office for economic affairs and real property of the state capital of Wiesbaden since January 2008.