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Dynamic geopolitical events and global transformations have presented city authorities with new challenges related to their development and attracting more investment. Representatives of Poland's largest cities discussed in Karpacz how local government strategies related to the labor market, attracting foreign investors and strengthening competitive advantages are changing.

It is impossible to break down a well-oiled machine

Deputy Mayor of Wroclaw Jakub Mazur said that the city, which has been developing excellently for many years, will also cope in difficult conditions.

It is impossible to break down a well-oiled machine, and our city is exactly that. That's why these worse times haven't caused as much turbulence. In the case of Wroclaw, it's about 20 years of experience directly with investors, with countries, with organizations that bring together even thousands of companies. Since 2005, Wroclaw has had the Wroclaw Agglomeration Development Agency, whose work has brought the city hundreds of billions in investments and tens of thousands of very sophisticated jobs. Although some in power wanted to spoil this success for us, much of it cannot be spoiled.

Jakub Mazur, deputy mayor of Wroclaw

According to the vice mayor, the first attack of the pandemic caused some investment decisions to be reversed. However, 2021 has already been excellent for the city, and the current one shows that it has the potential for further large investments bringing up to tens of thousands of new jobs.

Of course, the war has stunted our growth somewhat. While we know that 200,000 new residents, on the one hand, is an organizational problem, on the other hand, it is a great opportunity for success and a leap in civilization

Jakub Mazur

Ukrainian business can develop in Poland

The mayor of Poznań, in turn, spoke of how the crisis that was the pandemic allowed his city to carry out many investments, including road projects, which in normal times would have been a mobile nuisance for residents. On the other hand, carrying them out at the time, when most people were working remotely, was much easier. In addition to the obvious difficulties that have arisen due to the war in Ukraine, he also sees opportunities for the development of the city and the country.

Assuming that this war may still last a long time, together with large entrepreneurs we want to encourage Ukrainian companies to move their operations to Poland. This will allow them not only to survive, but also to develop their business. It is also known that corruption has been a big problem in Ukraine. If these companies operate in our country for some time, they will see that without bribes their business can also function well. So this will also have an educational dimension

Jacek Jaskowiak, president of Poznan

Crisis motivates more creativity and effort

According to Jacek Jaskowiak, Ukraine has huge economic potential, which is provided by, among other things, raw materials and developed agriculture. In turn, its current experience may result in it becoming one of the economic powers in Europe within 10-15 years, which could be a huge opportunity for Polish business.

An extraordinary foundation has been laid for this, as the country has received the largest support in Europe from Poland - both financially and when it comes to providing a roof over the heads of people seeking safe shelter. So every crisis is also an opportunity. The same is true of the current gas and coal problems. It will mobilize us for energy modernization - building nuclear power plants or using photovoltaics. So all these crises, pandemic and war are an element that motivates us to even more creativity and effort.

Jacek Jaskowiak

Ukrainian migrants are an opportunity for urban development

The local government of the capital also sees great opportunities for the city, in addition to the difficulties arising from the war in Ukraine.

I feel that Warsaw has managed and is coming out of the crisis with a defensive hand. On the one hand, of course, the migration situation is a great economic, organizational, social challenge, and on the other hand it is also a great opportunity to support the economy. Thanks to this, we will build better and better investment potential and strengthen our society. It is worth noting that people coming from Ukraine are highly educated. As many as 60% of them have higher education, and 30% have secondary education. Thus, they represent a great development potential.

Karolina Zdrodowska, Director and Coordinator for Entrepreneurship and Social Dialogue of the City of Warsaw

At the same time, we press the brake and change gears

Lodz authorities, on the other hand, are convinced that Poland is in for economic success, but only in a few years. 

The current situation has caused us to simultaneously put on the brake and shift gears. The fact that Poland is currently a frontline country has not only affected the influx of refugees, which can be seen especially in the real estate market, but has also caused large foreign companies to postpone their investments. This can be seen especially from investors from overseas, who are now afraid to place their money in Poland. Of course, we still have cost competitiveness and a specific labor market structure. Poles are still hungry for success, and well educated. We are still competitive, so it doesn't look bad. On the other hand, certainly the current situation has changed the dynamics of our economic growth. I think Poland is destined for economic success, but in the long run. However, the next two years will not be as good as the last five.

Adam Pustelnik, deputy mayor of Lodz

It is worth taking advantage of positive changes

On the other hand, the representative of Gdansk said that although there were several difficult moments in the pandemic, the city nevertheless also sees the positive of the current complicated situation.

Our labor market, which can hardly be compared to Warsaw, Wroclaw or Krakow in terms of technical graduates, has expanded dramatically. Suddenly, the restrictions of where to work and where to live have disappeared. Many companies located their centers in Gdansk, even though their specialists worked from different latitudes, not only in Poland. As a Tri-City, we also have a special character because of our location and a transportation hub that is currently crucial in Europe, and has gained even more importance after February 24. The importance of the port has increased. There have been large investments from both the public and private sectors, and this will probably continue. I think we're also going to be competitive all the time in terms of the education and employment costs of our employees. Of course, we intend to take advantage of that.

Alan Aleksandrowicz, president of the Gdansk Economic Development Agency

The panel was moderated by Wiktor Doktor, president of Pro Progressio.