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30 years of Wirtschaftsförderung Sachsen GmbH – As a door opener, bridge builder and networker for the business location on a constant course of success

  • Settlement successes confirm Saxony’s attractiveness as a location: 645 new company settlements and expansions in 30 years
  • Growing importance of the export business for Saxony: New requirements due to changes in markets, changes in technologies and stronger networking of industries – Expansion of cross-cluster work
  • Trade fairs and business trips: Further development of proven instruments for sales promotion and cooperation for Saxon companies

Settlement successes confirm Saxony’s attractiveness as a business location

Wirtschaftsförderung Sachsen GmbH (WFS) sees itself as a door opener, bridge builder and networker for companies, investors and the business location. Since its foundation in 1991, WfS has supported 645 new company settlements and expansions with an investment volume of approximately 10.8 billion euros, which has directly created or secured more than 60,000 jobs. The new jobs were created mainly in the automotive industry, logistics, microelectronics, mechanical and plant engineering, life sciences as well as environmental and energy technology. These settlement successes confirm the high attractiveness of Saxony as a business location.

Minister President Michael Kretschmer:”After an extremely difficult time at the beginning of the 90s, the Saxon economy has developed incredibly successfully and is now a top business location in the heart of Europe. The fact that the Saxon economy was able to develop so successfully also has to do with the commitment of the state’s own economic development agency. Over the past three decades, it has repeatedly been very successful in promoting the location, new settlements and investments, thus ensuring economic dynamism, employment and prosperity in our company. Through clever and forward-looking work, WfS has also contributed to Saxony being the most important location for the European chip industry today.«

“Massive efforts were necessary after German reunification to reposition Saxony as a business location. Over the past 30 years, Saxony’s Economic Development Agency has played a significant role in the successful development of the Free State,” emphasizes Martin Dulig, Saxony’s Minister of Economic Affairs and WfS Supervisory Board Chairman. “What we have achieved is really impressive. Saxony is the largest semiconductor location in Europe. Microelectronics is a key industry for maintaining and expanding the innovation and competitiveness of all major economic sectors. Saxony is also once again a world-famous car country. And industries such as mechanical engineering, biotechnology and environmental technology are also developing dynamically and are experiencing strong growth.«

At the same time, Minister Dulig acknowledges the commitment of the WfS workforce: “WfS and its employees – headed by Thomas Horn since 2018 – are an indispensable partner for Saxon companies. I would like to thank all WfS employees for their tireless work, their dedication – often on weekends or, for telephone calls with companies overseas, even at night. Without them, Saxony’s economy would look different today.”

“This positive development has been achieved in an environment that is always characterized by special challenges. The upheaval in the 1990s, the flood disaster of 2002, the global financial crisis from 2007 or the ongoing current corona pandemic were some of them. Especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall, enormous efforts were necessary to reposition Saxony as a business location for the future. Previous products were no longer in demand, important export markets collapsed and many companies faced existential problems. Here, lighthouse projects, such as Volkswagen’s decision for Zwickau and Chemnitz, the settlement of BMW, Porsche and DHL in Leipzig as well as the Siemens chip factory (today Infineon) and AMD (today Globalfoundries) in Dresden in the 1990s and early 2000s were not only a signal for the departure, but also important anchors in the regions. A functioning and broad-based system of supplier companies and medium-sized companies has settled around these companies. This also laid the foundation for today’s very successful industry networks, such as Silicon Saxony, VEMAS, AMZ. These and the resulting clusters are in turn important for new settlements, because investors there immediately benefit from the existing network. Despite everything, investor recruitment will not be easy in the future either, because other markets also offer attractive conditions and attract new markets. For us, this means that the business location can only convince in the future if it is in top form. In doing so, we rely above all on the high level of technological competence in future-oriented industries and the close cooperation of industry with research and development,” says WFS Managing Director Thomas Horn.

Growing importance of the export business for Saxony – Expansion of cross-cluster work
Over the past 30 years, the export business has become increasingly important for the economic development of the Free State. Since the eastward enlargement of the EU in 2004 to 2019 alone, exports have risen from 16.2 billion euros to 40.3 billion euros, more than doubling. Meanwhile, more than every third euro is earned abroad. This not only secures local jobs, but also creates many new jobs in the exporting companies.

In the course of this time, the markets for Saxon companies have also changed: while in 1991 the former Soviet Union was still the most important trading partner, China and the USA are now the largest sales markets. But the European markets are also showing great dynamism and the neighbouring countries of Poland and the Czech Republic are both now among the TOP 5 trading partners for Saxony.

“Supporting Saxon companies in opening up international markets remains a focus of WFS. We support companies in reacting to changes in international markets by recognizing relevant technology and market trends at an early stage and by further developing their strategic orientation towards core industries and future technologies. Mention should be made here of the current topic of robotics and the impetus for the »Robot Valley Saxony«. Cross-cluster work, i.e. the networking of the relevant industries with each other and with research and development institutions, will also continue to gain in importance. This is where the potential lies to secure the necessary lead in global competition with innovative ideas and projects,” explains Thomas Horn.

Further development of proven instruments for sales promotion and cooperation for Saxon companies
Participation in international trade fairs as well as in business and delegation trips are important instruments for exploring foreign markets and examining cooperation opportunities, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises that shape the Saxon economy.

Since 1991, 326 business trips have taken place with almost 4,000 participants. The first WFS delegation trip in 1992 led to Ufa, the capital of the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan. In the same year, wfS also held its first joint company stand at the Leipzig spring trade fair »Dialog 92«. Since then, almost 6,000 Saxon exhibitors have presented themselves at more than 400 trade fairs at such joint stands.

“After the corona pandemic, it is now crucial for WFS to regain momentum with presence formats at home and abroad in order to meet the great interest of companies in personal contacts at trade fairs and business trips, but also to reflect the changed market situation and technology developments in our formats. To this end, we will use the experience gained during the pandemic, e.B virtual business trips, and further develop proven formats in a modern and functional way,” says Thomas Horn.

Background information on 30 years of WFS

  • Foundation of WFS on 22.07.1991 as a state-owned company
  • 1991: 1. Settlement: Kronospan (production and distribution of wood-based building materials) in Lampertswalde
  • 1991: Dispatch of 50,000 copies of »Image Brochure Saxony« to 35 countries
  • 1992: Organization of the first state information / company joint stand Saxony at the Leipzig spring fair »Dialog 92« (on behalf of the SMWA)
  • 1992: first delegation trip organized by the WFS – led by the Prime Minister – to Ufa, the capital of the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan; since then, 325 further business and delegation trips all over the world
  • 1993: Introduction of the municipal economic information system KWIS with commercial space and company database
  • 1994: Establishment of the first Japanese investor in Saxony: Takata Sachsen GmbH in Elterlein (today: three locations of Joyson Safety Systems in Saxony)
  • 1996: WFS hosts the online presence of the Free State of Saxony (until 2009)
  • 1997: Introduction of an online company database
  • 1998: 1. Ground-breaking ceremony at TD Deutsche Klimakompressor GmbH as a subsidiary of Toyota and Denso in Straßgräbchen
  • 1999: Porsche AG chooses Leipzig
  • 2001: BMW AG chooses Leipzig
  • 2003: Premiere of the brand »Autoland Sachsen« at the IAA in Frankfurt/M.
  • 2004: DHL settles in Leipzig
  • 2006: Location decision of amazon Logistik for Leipzig
  • 2008: Start of marketing saxony as a business location under the umbrella brand SACHSEN! (SAXONY!) and establishment of the foreign trade initiative AWIS on the initiative of the SMWA together with the IHKn and HWKn
  • 2012: Organisation of the first »Enjoy Saxony« joint stands at trade fairs of the food industry
  • 2013: first investment from Poland: COMARCH Construction of a data center in Dresden * 2016: Federal Council Presidency of the Free State of Saxony with delegation trips by the Federal Council and Prime Minister to South Korea and Singapore as well as Mexico and Cuba
  • 2016: Launch of the »Internationalization Offensive« IOSax
  • 2017: Robert Bosch GmbH decides to set up a semiconductor production facility in Dresden
  • 2017: Largest Saxon business delegation outside Europe with 41 participating companies as part of the delegation trip to China under the leadership of the Prime Minister on the occasion of Saxony’s ten-year regional partnership with Hubei
  • 2019: Location decision of the Sierra Nevada Corporation from the USA to found the company Deutsche Aircraft and to build a factory for short-haul D 328eco aircraft in Schkeuditz
  • 2019: Launch of the portal together with the Brandenburg Economic Development Agency as the first cross-state investor protal in Germany
  • 2020: Beiersdorf AG settles in Leipzig
  • 2021: Vodafone Group settles in Dresden

Source: Press release Wirtschaftsförderung Sachsen mbH from 11.10.2021

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