We have been consistently pursuing a development path that balances the needs of city, citizens and entrepreneurs with sustainability

We have been consistently pursuing a development path that balances the needs of city, citizens and entrepreneurs with sustainability

“Our key objective is to build in Lublin an innovative economic ecosystem.”

Mariusz Sagan, Ph.D. - Head of Strategy and Investor Relations Department in Municipal Administration of the City of Lublin, Mayor's plenipotentiary responsible for special economic zone. Co-developer of Lublin 2020 Development Strategy where development plan for the leading city in eastern Poland is presented. Sagan initiated such programmes as Study in Lublin, Lublin IT Upland, Lublin Medicine - medical cluster, and Life Science Cluster (all the projects are implemented in Lublin).
Expert and practitioner in stimulating strategic development, promoting entrepreneurship, devising development strategies of cities and attracting international investors. Since 2009 – associate professor in the Collegium of Business Administration in Warsaw School of Economics. Author and co-author of over 100 publications on regional and urban development, international business, and company management.

What does a Head of Strategy and Investor Relations in a municipality work on?    

Our key objective has been and still is to build in Lublin an innovative economic ecosystem, in the framework of which business entities, universities, local government and other stakeholders closely cooperate. After I started work for municipality my task was to prepare Lublin Development Strategy 2020 and provide tools for fast economic development of the city. I.a. to achieve this was created Department of Strategy and Investor Relations. This unit having pro-business philosophy is directly subject to the President of Lublin and employs many specialists on economy, central and local government administration, marketing and universities. Consistently pursued strategy of servicing investors based on employing professionals, allows to build partner relations between local government and business entities. Companies investing in our city more quickly adjust to the city and we are able to fastly and efficiently respond to their needs. As a result a positive opinion on investing in our city is spreading and these days Lublin is second to Wrocław the fastest growing agglomeration in Poland.       

So, you are helping to make Lublin more noticeable to investors, who can create new jobs. Is it true that the unemployment rate in the city is only 6%?    

That is true. We have been working on it with the whole team. Today Lublin is the major economic centre in Eastern Poland, centre for business process outsourcing and Industry 4.0. At present, unemployment rate is 5.7 %. It is the lowest level in 25 years and this trend is still downward. Lublin labour market is full of ambitious and highly qualified young people who are eager to start work. More than a half of Lublin’s citizens is less than 40 years old and almost 2/3 of the population is in the working age. Each year 18 thousand students graduate from 9 Lublin universities and many from among 63 thousand university students and 7 thousand students of vocational schools look for opportunities to gain professional experience.

Currently, more than 26 thousand people work in the industry sector in Lublin. However, it is not the quantity that matters, but quality of these workplaces and dynamics of their growth. In 2010 industry in Lublin employed only 20 thousand people. In Lublin Development Strategy from 2013 we decided to focus on special economic zone and the site of former Daewoo Motor Poland Company. At present, companies seated in the special economic zone give work to almost 4.3 thousand people compared to 400 in 2010 and companies from Mełgiewska street also 4 thousand, that is more than in the heyday of Daewoo Motor Poland. I would like to add that industry in Lublin each year generates one thousand of new workplaces. Another dynamically developing sector is logistics, which also provides services for industry. I refer here to different types of distribution, delivery and transport companies and online shops. We estimate that this year around 600-700 professionals will find jobs in logistics. Our third pillar is IT sector. It employs 600-800 new people annually, mainly developers and IT specialists. In Zana Office Park, in so called the first tower alone work already 300 people. At the target level in this building will be employed 1.5 thousand people. When we add to this the second tower and other buildings that will be built in the city by this company, additional 80 thousand square metres of very modern offices and 5 thousand new jobs will be generated in IT and BPO sector. The highest growth of office space in Lublin was recorded in 2017. Then five buildings with office space of 31,000 square metres were delivered. The growth in office space in relation to 2017 amounted to 21% (from 147,000 to 178,00 square metres). 2018 is also very successful. At the end of the second quarter the A class building at Spokojna 2 was delivered with 18,940 square metres of the total area, located in the very heart of the city and another building CZ Office Park of approximately 5,000 square metres total area. As a result Lublin strengthened its 7th position among regional cities in terms of available modern office space reaching supply of more than 200 thousand square metres. It’s also worth mentioning that for the first time total supply of A class buildings will be higher than B class ones. There is also no indication that the boom on Lublin real property market is to be over in the nearest future, which is a good sign for the whole sector of business process outsourcing in Poland.

The city of Lublin has become the leader of Eastern Poland and one of the most dynamically growing cities in the country. How did you achieve this?

Lublin is an investment and administrative centre of the region. Key institutions for business are located here. For eight years we have been consistently pursuing a development path that balances the needs of city citizens and entrepreneurs with sustainability. Thanks to it our city is able to provide investors with high quality of life and space for developing business both in service and industry sector. Lublin is built on a strong foundation of Lublin Development Strategy 2020. In the Strategy, based on expert analysis, we selected priority industry sectors that are desirable and actively supported in the city. Moreover, we prepared the concept of Lublin Economic Uplands being a comprehensive description and a development vision of major economic ecosystems forming the economic landscape of the city. It consists of both traditional sectors, having their roots in the industrial heritage of Lublin – such as electro mechanics, aviation, chemical and food industry, as well as modern branches of industry and services based on IT, human resources and modern infrastructure (Lublin Automotive and Mechanical Upland, Lublin Aviation Upland, Lublin IT Upland, Lublin Medicine Upland and Lublin Biotechnology Upland). The basis for their functioning is so called triple helix – cooperation and interactions among public authorities, academic world and business representatives. This development model proved to be successful, therefore we do not intend to deviate from this route in years to come. Currently, we are starting works on Lublin Development Strategy 2030.

Other good practice is the support that the municipality provides to the young parents. How do you find financial resources for kindergartens and free public transport, for example? 

In Lublin we can be proud of the fact that for years we have been doing very well in life quality rankings, year by year reaching better indicators. We dispose of highly praised, modern and low emission public transport, bustling cultural environment, state-of-the-art athletics and football stadium and aqua park with Olympic swimming pool. At the same time, public spaces are successively regenerated: Saski Garden, Litewski Square, soon Ludowy Park and the valley of Bystrzyca river. We have been developing cycling infrastructure and Lublin City Bike system. We are preparing as well two major, interconnected projects that will change many important places in Lublin. In the near future a metropolitan station will be built in the neighbourhood of current train station, which will completely transform this part of the city. Moving bus station from Podzamcze area will allow to create in this representative space at the foot of the Castle and the Old Town – a new Lublin landmark, which is consistent with the best practices in city space design. It all proves that Lublin strongly focused on social innovations and smart city development. The citizen budget have been functioning in Lublin for many years. It was also in Lublin where the first green citizen budget was implemented.  Last year we participated in the project Foresight 2050 – thanks to such initiatives and well as using modern technologies in the city infrastructure, life quality in Lublin is so praised. The image of modern, innovative city both in the science and business, city friendly for living is foundation of Lublin’s investment attractiveness. As a result of focusing on innovativeness in each aspect of the city development, at present Lublin is eagerly chosen as national and foreign investment destination.

What about the EU funds, what percentage of the annual investment they are?  

In recent years Lublin has made a „civilisation leap” and moved towards being modern, citizen-friendly and one of the fastest growing cities in Poland. Between 2010-2018 we invested in total 3.5 mld PLN in infrastructure, including 1.6 mld PLN from European funds. These are investments that citizens directly benefit from. Accessibility in terms of transport has been improved – as a result of building e.g.  an airport and access roads to the bypass. But that is not all. We built educational, sport and cultural facilities. We are one of the few cities in Poland that modernised public transport to such an extent. We carried out a project worth over 500 mln PLN, which allowed us to buy 100 low carbon emission buses and 70 trolleybuses and to modernise bus stop infrastructure. Currently, we continue implementing a programme of integrated, zero-emission public transport for another 500 mln PLN. We are also planning to build a speedway stadium. After we finish this project, there will be no other city in Poland that has built three stadiums and the Olympic swimming pool in a decade, giving its citizens an opportunity to do sport at the highest level possible.

During current financial perspective 2014-2020 we focus on cooperation. 16 communes and municipalities located in the proximity of Lublin cooperate as a part of Lublin Functional Area. Thanks to grants from the ZIT (Integrated Territorial Investments) programmes communes and municipalities can carry out infrastructural investments together, as well as cooperate with other institutions implementing soft projects aimed at developing local community. Among main projects prepared in the framework of ZIT are Integrated Transport Centre for Lublin Functional Area and building and modernising bus stops and interchanges integrated with other types of transport for the whole functional area.    

The event which shows Lublin’s importance in Europe, is the annual Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress. This year its main topic will be building of close relations in regional cooperation of countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the context of 100 years old tradition. Tell more about the event.

This is just one of many initiatives that each year take place in Lublin. The Centre for Eastern competences that organises the Congress is a programme initiated by the City of Lublin and local government of Lubelskie Voivodeship. Its aim is to constantly cooperate for the benefit of the development of community, education, culture and business and strengthening mutual communication and dialogue. Its creation reflected the importance that in Lublin Region is attached to cooperation with partners from Eastern Europe. From mutual trust and engagement in the cooperation follow dozens of jointly implemented projects. Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress is a meeting place for thousands of experts in development and transnational cooperation and provides platform for dialogue among the representatives of science, culture, education, local and central government, creators and policymakers from this part of Europe. This type of platform is aimed at supporting implementation of partner projects from available sources of external funds. Last year’s Congress was inaugurated by a special event – awarding Lublin with the Prize of the Council of Europe. The City was appreciated for actively promoting European ideas and values, e.g. by organising interesting cultural and social events having European scale. It is a perfect confirmation of justness of actions we undertake.

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