NATIONAL

Poland’s Lodz woos creative investors

By Korea Herald
  • Published : May 1, 2016 - 23:50
  • Updated : May 1, 2016 - 23:50

The city of Lodz -- located in the heart of Poland and Europe -- is ideal for the “creative class” of professionals who value high-quality living as much as their high salaries.

A former powerhouse for the textile industry since the mid-19th century, the third-largest city in Poland has refurbished itself offering lofty lifestyles and opportunities.

Rows of redbrick tenements and factories were revitalized into fashionable spaces of business and living, artistic expression and entrepreneurial experimentation: gentrified lofts, apartments, museums, galleries, libraries, theatres and halls. 

Lodz (Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Lodz (Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Lodz (Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Lodz (Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

To showcase its makeover and share lessons of transformation, the Lodz municipal government is vying to host the International Exposition 2022, whose bidding starts this year.

Under the banner the “Reinvention of the City,” Lodz will explore the possibilities and challenges of administering today’s cosmopolitan metropolis.

To elicit Korea’s support for its candidature and highlight investment opportunities, Lodz Mayor Hanna Zdanowska visited Korea last week. Zdanowska and Polish Ambassador to Korea Krzysztof Ignacy Majka met Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho, Korean Ambassador for Climate Change Choi Jae-chul and senior officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

“We are now undergoing a huge economic transformation,” Zdanowska told The Korea Herald on Tuesday. “We are remaking our smokestack industries and diversifying our economy toward innovative and creative industries, logistics and transport, information communications technology, aviation and business process outsourcing.”

Lodz Mayor Hanna Zdanowska (Joel Lee / The Korea Herald)

Utilizing its prime location at the center of the country and continent, logistics and transport have become a major vehicle of growth, according to the mayor. Since 2013, Lodz is connected directly to cities of Chengdu and Xiamen in China through railways.

Through the expo, new insights into the city will be gained, she argued, noting that over 6 billion people will make cities their home three decades from now.

“We want to look at issues of sustainable development, growth management and efficient design of cities from different angles, and devise new ways to incorporate them into life,” Zdanowska said. “In the process of renewing our city, we have offered channels of participation to our citizens. The expo will present Lodz as a vital, creative, productive, functional and green city.”

“The rise of the creative class” -- expounded by Richard Florida, an American urban theorist at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management -- has forced cities to become attractive, yet unaffordable turfs of the “yuppies (young urban professionals),” the mayor acknowleged. 

Lodz (Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Lodz (Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Lodz (Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Lodz (Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

“Creativity is in the blood of Lodz citizens. Creative experiments are blossoming in the city both autonomously and with municipal support. Our city government assists fashion, art and design, film, publishing and gaming industries with rent subsidies and tax incentives.”

In Lodz, urban revitalization is materialized through municipal and European Union funds, which led to the creation of the National Center of Cinematography and Center of Science and Technology.

For foreign investors, various agreements of bilateral cooperation are signed with the municipality, with incentives tailored to industry-specific needs. Other services cover language and vocational training, simplified administration, local contacts, recruitment and housing information.

Rent fees and property prices are significantly lower than Poland’s capital Warsaw and other European cities, while cultural amenities are around the corner of work and home. Schools and universities teach in various languages, including Polish, English, French and German.

On Thursday, the Polish Embassy and its trade and investment promotion section held a seminar titled “Lodz as a city of investment, education and revitalization” in Seoul, followed by the signing of a letter of intent on Cooperation between Lodz and Daegu on Friday. A Polish Honorary Consul General Office opened at Keimyung University in Daegu in late 2014.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)