Dr. Eva Lohse: Ludwigshafen – Stadt am Rhein Worth living and economically powerful

As a part of the high-growth Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, the economy of Ludwigshafen is characterised especially by the chemicals industry. Internationally active companies are based here. However, the city itself also offers small and medium-sized companies an outstanding business environment, a low rate of business tax and excellent links to the infrastructure. Thanks to numerous cultural events and adjacent leisure activities, Ludwigshafen is a location worth investing in.

In summer, the German Film Festival attracts film fans from all over Germany to Ludwigshafen’s Parkinsel (Park Island) in the Rhine. What started on a small scale in 2005 has become the biggest film festival in Germany second only by the Berlinale. And anyone strolling along the Rhine after seeing a film will experience Ludwigshafen from its most attractive side. It is difficult to imagine that port and industrial installations stood here not too long ago. Today there are public spaces, parks and promenades, a high-quality residential area and a shopping centre whose architecture impresses customers and passersby. For the first time in its history, the city of Ludwigshafen has really moved to the banks of the river Rhine. This development is probably the most obvious example of a dynamic process with which the city has considerably increased its attractiveness for people and the commercial sector over the last few years.

The prerequisite for a good life is a prospering economy. As the second-largest city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Ludwigshafen forms the industrial focal point in the region together with its sister city Mannhein in Baden-Württemberg on the opposite bank of the Rhine. Some 9.5 per cent of Rhineland-Palatinate’s gross domestic product is earned in Ludwigshafen. According to the State Statistics Office – and these are the latest figures – this was about 12 billion euros in 2014. All goods and services produced  in Ludwigshafen were produced by a workforce of about 123,000 people, who make up about 6.2 per cent of the workforce in Rhineland-Palatinate. This easily makes the gross domestic product per employee in Ludwigshafen of slightly less than 98,600 euros the highest compared with all towns, cities and districts in the Rhineland-Palatinate.

A considerable part of this added value can be attributed to BASF SE, which operates not only one of the largest but also one of the most efficient and most innovative chemicals locations in the world at its corporate headquarters. But the Ludwigshafen business location also has other companies such as Isolite GmbH, Pfalzwerke AG – and many more besides. For AbbVie, for example, Ludwigshafen is one of the world’s most important pharmaceuticals research locations outside the USA and its 1,900 employees in Ludwigshafen include about 1,000 scientists. Medium-sized companies such as Schäfer Additivsysteme decided to set up in Ludwigshafen and built a new company building in the technology mile in 2015. While the chemicals industry is by far the city’s most important sector of the economy, it nevertheless provides only a good third of jobs. In the last few years in particular, the city has succeeded in broadening its economic basis through targeted settlements from other sectors.

New jobs have been created in mechanical engineering, communications and information technology and in food production in particular. Joseph Vögele AG, the world’s leading manufacturer of road finishing machines, has transferred its head office to Ludwigshafen, Deutsche Telekom has concentrated several hundred jobs from the region in a new building in the Rheinallee, and a new office building for BASF employees has been constructed right next door. Prego Services, an IT and business services company, has occupied a new location in the technology mile. The region’s large-scale baker Görtz has transferred its company headquarters and production back to its original location from where it now supplies over 150 branches daily. But the healthcare sector also enjoys a good reputation in Ludwigshafen. Only last year, the Ludwigshafen Hospital  invested 40 million euros in a cardiac centre.

The medium-sized sector appreciates Ludwigshafen for its central location in the Rhine Neckar metropolitan region, its excellent transport links, a large number of educational and care facilities and – on the residential market in particular – good value for money. The city with the – on average – best paid jobs in the region is also becoming more attractive as a place to live. Demand is increasing but the market is not yet over-priced. So the city is not merely of interest for those searching for accommodation but also for the real estate industry.

Current investments in the central city are evidence of the positive dynamism that has been inspired by the changes in the city. In 2017, a former department store in a central city location will be converted in to a modern commercial and services centre. In addition, a hotel in the moxy chain will be built in the Platz der Deutschen Einheit (Square of German Unity) directly opposite the Rhine Gallery, which will appeal especially to young business and leisure tourists with its stylish design. A former cinema in the central city will be converted into student accommodation and at the Berliner Platz, an office block has been planned as a new high point in Ludwigshafen’s city skyline. Modern central city living is also being developed at the Bürgerhof. GAG, our housing construction company, plans to build a two to seven-storeyed ensemble of apartment buildings and office buildings with 33 dwelling units and some 600 square metres of commercial space.

In the urban development project “City West – Room for New Urban Ideas”, we are looking to the future. The catalyst is the tearing-down of an elevated highway, where 44,000 vehicles use one of the most important transport links in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region every day. After early and comprehensive civic participation, the City Council decided in 2014 to replace the elevated highway with a ground-level city street, thereby smoothing the way for the project. In the mid-term, this will create about 147,000 square me­­tres of inner city building land in the centre of the business location. Building land of all types will be synonymous with demand-oriented urban development. Parallel to this, we as a part of the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region have set out on the way to becoming a digital model region for intelligently-networked infrastructures and we are proud that the 2017 National IT Summit will be held in our city.

The British statesman Winston Churchill once said: “Let us replace fear of the future with foresight and thinking ahead.” Our strength lies in joining up modern urban life and sophistication with mature structures. It remains our task to permanently shape life and work in our city. So we remain innovative and open for change and for people who want to shape the future.

Dr. Eva Lohse
Dr. Eva Lohse studied law and then worked in various positions as an adminis­trative lawyer. She lectured at the German Federal College of Public Administration in Mannheim from 1996 to 2001. She has been the Lord Mayor of the City of Ludwigshafen am Rhein since 2002 and she was also President of the Rhine-Neckar Regional Association from 2006 to 2016. She has been President of the Association of German Cities since 2015.