An interview with the President of the City of Gdynia – Mr Wojciech Szczurek
Outsourcing&More: For many years now, Gdynia has not been operating as merely a port city, but has been successfully growing economically across the entire metropolitan area. What can the new entrepreneurs count on if they are interested in developing their economic activities in Gdynia?
Wojciech Szczurek: I would rather say Gdynia is treated as a city which is not only a port. Gdynia is still one of the most important ports in Poland, and the maritime industry dominates among business sectors in the city. We are definitely still in with the sea. But we are not limited to the sea. Gdynia is a great supporter of business endeavours, both on a large and smaller scale. All entrepreneurs and investors (sole proprietors, company representatives, etc.) willing to operate in Gdynia can count on our help. We offer support at each stage of your business activity, from advising the best location for your investment, through facilitating your paperwork and assisting at the beginning of operation to successful cooperation when the company builds its momentum.
One example is the idea of a “single service desk” in the Gdynia Business Support Centre, where all the paperwork regarding the set up and operation of your business can be completed at this single service desk.
The outcome of this innovative idea is the increased number of sole proprietors operating in Gdynia: 250 per 1000 persons at a working age (170 is the average in Poland), and the time you need to open your business is about 20 minutes.
On the other hand, ICT companies are keen to use the largest (nearly 80,000 m2 ) Gdynia Pomeranian Science and Technology Park in Poland with the Constructor's Park and the Baltic Port of New Technologies, where they can take advantage of state-of-the-art conference and office centres, biotechnological and electronic labs, prototype workshops and gain access to professional advice and training. There are more than 200 companies operating on their area, and the innovative solutions developed by the companies have found customers on the Polish and international markets.
The city also offers Gdynia Business Incubator services to support micro, small and medium sized businesses.
The Business Services Sector is becoming more and more popular in Poland and across Europe. Investors from the BPO and SSC sectors are willing to base their operational centres in the city. What companies have already decided to establish their locations in Gdynia?
Gdynia and the remaining cities of the “Tri-City” area (Gdańsk and Sopot) have already become the greatest BPO/ SSC zone in Poland. Poland has become the first in Europe and the second in the world (after India) market for the BPO/ SSC services, and Gdynia has contributed to this position in a considerable manner.
Gdynia offers infrastructure that is not only modern, but also systematically developed, an indispensable factor for operating your business within the services sector as well as making key investment decisions by international c o m p a n i e s a n d c o r p o r a t i o n s. The economic potential of the city is enhanced by the presence of service centres of large entities offering multiple job positions for educated staff, such as: Thomson Reuters, Sony Pictures Entertainment, DNV GL, holding WNS Ltd, Geoban and Misys.
Human resources as well as office space potential determine the choices the companies make in regard to location. What can you say about the staffing and office space potential of the city?
Gdynia and the “Tri-City” is a large academic centre (23 higher education institutions), educating close to 100,000 students on the following universities: Gdańsk University of Technology, The University of Gdańsk, Polish Naval Academy, Gdynia School of Banking, University of Business and Administration in Gdynia and Higher School of Social Communication in Gdynia.
Secondary school students in Gdynia have the highest rates of passing the matriculation exam (Gdynia – 83%, Poland – 78.5%). The investors will find a lot of young people who are currently entering the job market with excellent knowledge of languages such as Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and many others. An interesting fact: more than 50% of Nordic languages’ speakers in Poland lives in the Pomeranian voivodeship. The number of speakers of Spanish and German found in Pomerania is also above the nationwide average. Nearly 75% of the “Tri-City” residents are of a working age, which makes it a big advantage for the region.
Currently, Gdynia can offer about 200,000 m2 of office space conveniently located near the centre of the city. In the coming years, Gdynia will host investments expanding the office space area of the highest standard. At this point it is impossible not to mention the Śródmieście Morskie project including several independent investments which will be developed within the next several years in the waterfront area. These projects will provide nearly 500,000 m2 of modern office and commercial space found in an exceptional location – at the meeting point of land and sea, in the strict centre of the city.
On 25 January, 2018, Gdynia will host the fifth edition of the Outsourcing Stars Gala, of which Gdynia is the main Partner. This will be an international gathering of business services sector specialists. And this is not the only business event the city is actively involved in. What conferences held in 2017 promoted the investment potential of Gdynia? What other industries, apart from the BSS, are you interested in?
Gdynia’s investment potential has been confirmed by a number of independent institutions. Among many others, the editorial staff of the fDi Magazine (addressed to the investors, a part of the Financial Times group), once again awarded Gdynia with the title of “The Polish City of the Future” in the 2017/18 edition. This distinctions was presented to us at the 2017 MIPIM in Cannes–the most prestigious real estate fair in the world. Gdynia won the main category for medium-sized cities, and two other categories: Economic Potential and Business Friendly.
The investment potential of Gdynia is promoted by a series of events organized by the city, thematic conferences such as The Forum of Maritime Industry, which has been hosted by Gdynia for many years, and it also receives the most important entities and persons from the maritime industry.
Gdynia also actively participates in the greatest fair events and conferences across Europe – including yearly participation in the MIPIM fair in Cannes and Expo Real fair in Munich, where we present Gdynia’s potential to the investors.
Apart from the BSS sector, Gdynia is primarily focused on promoting the broadly understood idea of Maritime Economy as well as the TSL industry.
Gdynia’s origins will always remain with the port and until today the city depends on its economic function. The port in Gdynia is specialised in handling general cargo, mainly unit – loads transported in containers and loaded or unloaded within ro-ro traffic based on a developed multimodal interconnectivity network and supply base. There are 200 companies specialised in this field in Gdynia. In addition, the booming industry currently includes 18 shipyards, as well as ship and port equipment manufacturers. The largest shipyards operating in Gdynia compete in quality, experience as well as expertise, and not price. They specialise in flagship building, marine structures, shipbuilding, offshore structures as well as modernisations and wide-ranging reconstructions.
Shipyards in Gdynia build ships to construct wind farm towers, research vessels, motorway construction barges, hybrid ferries powered by batteries, purse seiners and other specialised units.
It is worth noting that half of all logistic and shipping companies in the region is located in Gdynia.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. What happens outside working hours?
Gdynia is well-connected within the region–S-Bahn (rapid transit system) transports you from the centre of Gdynia to the centre of Gdańsk in 30 minutes. We also have the Pomeranian Metropolitan Railway and one of the best public bus and trolley bus systems in Poland – as well as transportation to other cities in Poland. Gdynia is the only city in Poland offering railway connections to all the largest Polish cities, modern trains run from Gdynia to Warsaw every hour. A1 motorway, the Tri-City Bypass and planned express routes provide good access to city roads.
Investors, who wish to ensure good working conditions and as a result satisfaction with life and work to their employees will be happy to know that standards of life in the city are very high.
According to the Social Diagnosis conducted by Professor Janusz Czapliński in 2015, as many as 87% of Gdynia’s residents are happy with living in the city – a result exceptional on a national scale. There are many factors that contribute to this fact. The most important ones are: the Opener Festival, Polish Film Festival, Gdynia Design Days, Gdynia Blues Festival, Globaltica, Ladies' Jazz Festival, Runmageddon, IRONMAN 70.3 Gdynia. Gdynia is the city with the cleanest air in Poland, which some time ago was not such a relevant factor, but became a very important aspect when choosing a place of residence by conscious employees, which also has a great impact on the investment.
Good food catering and cultural services, many recurring initiatives, such as Walking along the Trail of Modernism or Culinary Route in the Centre of Gdynia make the area interesting and attractive at any season.
Half of the area of the city is covered by forests growing in moraine hills, offering ideal conditions for walking, cycling and other after hour activities. Over a dozen kilometres of beaches and other fantastic places to take a stroll or go for a run just by the sea, such as the Bulwar Nadmorski or Skwer Kościuszki and Molo Południowe in combination with the weather that offers the greatest number of sunny days in Poland, should satisfy everyone.
If you only had one sentence to encourage investors to establish their BPO/SSC centres in Gdynia, what would you say?
Gdynia is a city offering a clearly defined, stable, but modern strategy focusing on specific sectors (Maritime Industry, BPO/SSC, TSL), we know what Investors expect and will assist them by providing great conditions for business activity–our city offers everything you need to be successful on the market. On top of all this we add the absolutely unique, and exceptionally high standard of life, which is the distinguishing feature of Gdynia among other thriving cities.