It is not a secret: not only are Germany’s regions competing for investors and competency centres with domestic locations, but they must also be competitive on an international level. With regard to the challenges related to that, a growing significance is assigned to the development of metropolitan regions.
On the federal and European levels, individual districts can only be competitive together with other municipalities. Metropolitan regions are engines of economic, social and cultural development while promoting integration with European and global economic networks. Efficiency and cooperation grow in relation to the cross-area cooperation between various partners such as citizens, municipalities and companies. That gives even a rural area the opportunity to integrate its strengths into the metropolitan development. However, the process is positive only if the area itself is proactive and sets directions.
The Munich Metropolitan Region (EMM) is undoubtedly counted among the most dynamic economic regions in Europe. Here, approximately 5.4 million people generate over 50 per cent of Bavaria’s gross domestic product. The advantages include an exceptional industrial diversity with well-networked global players, innovative SMEs as well as an education and research landscape that matches up to the international competition.
The entire area of the EMM comprises the Upper Bavarian districts, for the most part, as well as parts of Swabia and Lower Bavaria. Besides the state capital, Munich, the core consists of highly industrial regional centres such as Augsburg, Ingolstadt, Landshut, Kaufbeuren and Rosenheim. At the gates of Munich, high-tech locations shine, such as Oberpfaffenhofen with the EADS and DLR aeronautics and astronautics centres. The entire region is honey-combed with a dense network of motorways and railways, and its central location makes for short distances to southern and eastern Europe. Moreover, the Munich airport is a major international hub for connections throughout the world.
Based on that potential, a close cooperation mainly between city and rural areas is essential in order to sharpen competencies. For the economic and social significance, in particular, of the more than 20 South Bavarian districts of the Munich Metropolitan Region contributes considerably to its strength.
The district of Dachau is a case in point: in close vicinity to the state capital, Munich, it offers attractive business locations as well as a family-friendly living environment. It is only 13 kilometres from the southern district boundary to the Marienplatz square in Munich. The district itself is embedded between motorways converging onto the state capital: the Stuttgart–Munich federal motorway in the west, the Nuremberg–Munich motorway in the east, and the Munich–Freising motorway section. That is complemented by the motorway ring around Munich, two railway tracks, and a connection to the public transport association of Munich (MVV).
This well-developed infrastructure is in great demand. On a daily basis, approximately 35,000 commuters leave the region while nearly 13,000 people come to work in the district. This surplus of 22,000 commuters carries an enormous potential of highly skilled labour. Sixty per cent of the active population in the district of Dachau have accomplished professional training and another eleven per cent have pursued studies. With three grammer and intermediate schools as well as one vocational school and special school, complemented by one private vocational upper secondary school, one business school, and the Bavarian International School at Haimhausen Castle, the district is emphasising the education and training factors. In a federal education ranking by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the district was handed an excellent report card. The educational offensive benefits not least the economic development in the Dachau area, in addition to the prominence of the Munich Metropolitan Region as an outstanding scientific location.
The vicinity of large, internationally active companies such as BMW, MAN, MTU, Siemens, and Microsoft offers decisive advantages for cooperation.
Moreover, according to a 2011 GfK study ranking 412 German districts, the Dachau district came out among the top 10 with a purchasing power of 24,383 euros per inhabitant per year.
In order to continually strengthen the viability of the EMM through its districts, further concepts and ideas are required. To that effect, the association Munich Metropolitan Region has set up work groups in the fields of science, economy, environment, mobility, culture and sport as well as rural areas.
Environment and energy supply, in particular, are key future-related topics for the Dachau district. The point is not only to save resources but also to improve the living conditions of future generations. With that aim, the administrative office of the Dachau district has appointed a commissioner for climate protection. Amongst others, this officer’s mission is to cooperate with Freies EnergieForum in raising the population’s awareness of the topic, provide advice, and offer professional support. Based on 1990 values, the goal is to reduce the primary energy consumption of the district by 30 per cent, the consumption of electric energy by ten per cent, and carbon dioxide emissions by 40 per cent by the year 2020 while expanding the proportion of renewable energies to 40 per cent. Manageability, job security, training and further education opportunities, cultural and recreational offerings as well as pristine nature are important criteria for a high quality of life. The Dachau regional development association AGIL is committed to the well-being of the population. Generating offers and cooperation in the fields of education, economy, nature, and culture are central topics. The association also contributes to developing local recreation and tourism in the Dachau area and thereby its supra-regional visibility. “Think global, act local” is, thus, not a catchphrase but the foundation for implementing real projects with sustained success.
The author was born in 1947 and studied law in Munich. Since 1977, he has been active as chief executive of the Dachau district. He is chairman of the supervisory board of the housing association in the Dachau district and of the real estate company Dachauer Grundverkehrsgesellschaft. Since 2005, he has further been chairman of the supervisory board of the development company Fördergesellschaft Landkreis Dachau AG.