“Hamburg stands for international economic power combined with high quality of life”, says Dr. Rolf Strittmatter, who has been appointed as managing director of HWF Hamburg Business Development Corporation six months ago. A native of Baden-Württemberg, the manager has ambitious goals for Hamburg, and will thus be reorganising the services offered by HWF from home and abroad.
First of all, however, there is an anniversary to be celebrated. In the past 30 years, HWF supplied commercial premises to almost 2,800 companies and helped numerous companies to set up their business in Hamburg. Thus, 58,000 jobs were newly created, and more than 200,000 jobs secured. Thus, HWF also stands for investment of more than one million euro.
“30 years of business development in Hamburg also mean 30 years of intense change. The HWF has adapted to the changing needs of businesses”, said Strittmatter in an interview with Hamburg News. Key tasks of the past and today still include the acquisition of new companies from all over the world and the support for companies already active in Hamburg. But the 45-year-old also sees a number of new tasks.
“As a city-state, we are facing the challenge of decreasing supply of market-ready commercial space. Therefore, we will increasingly focus strategic area management and expand our services as a one-stop agency for investors. “Any person who contacted HWF will have a key contact for his concern”, promises HWF’s CEO. “We are efficient and innovative.”
To improve the limited supply of industrial and commercial space, Strittmatter dares to leave conventional thinking behind and looks for creative solutions. “Why do we not build, for example, just more in height instead of the width? We also want to increasingly involve the private real estate market and, of course, Hamburg’s metropolitan region.” Digitisation is another important issue on his agenda. “More and more investors and companies are wondering about the technical infrastructure of Hamburg, the city’s innovation capacity, its research institutions and international networks.”
Digitisation is becoming an increasingly cross-cutting issue for all industries and economic clusters. “With the smartPort, we already have intelligent industries in the maritime sectors. But digisation has also reached out to tourism, e-Health and eLogistic, aviation and renewable energies. “We definitely should no longer think in terms of individual clusters, but perceive Hamburg as a smart city.”
Hamburg has been known around the globe as Germany’s “Gateway to the World”. But the source markets for investment are changing. While China remains a key market, Scandinavia and particularly Denmark moved increasingly into focus due to new crossing. Poland, Turkey and Britain also remain interesting. “Right now, we have been very successful in attracting IT companies from the U.S.A.”
Born in Germany’s south, Strittmatter is often surprised by Hamburg’s understatement. “Modesty is fine, but other drums are louder”. In this context, Strittmatter calls Hamburg’s Olympic bid a “huge opportunity” for the region. “Already now, we notice an increased interest not only in Hamburg, but for Northern Germany as a whole. I see the Olympics not only as an opportunity to put us on the map of international investors. The application also allows us to develop a new sense of belonging among ourselves, which then turns to the outside world”, Strittmatter emphasises. “With the Olympic bid, we have a great opportunity to promote our qualities and our USPs. At the end of the day, all will benefit from the globally increased awareness of Hamburg.”
Still, hard economic factors such as location, dates and facts dominate decisions by investors. But soft location factors such as the high quality of life in Hamburg are becoming increasingly important when recruiting specialists and top executives. The manager, marathon runner, and father of three knows what he is talking about. “When I run around the Alster Lake at night and meet only people who are just as enthusiastic about the city like me, then that’s just great!”
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