Leipzig – “The home of the peaceful revolution” and a city that celebrates a thousand years of history next year – was an important industrial centre prior to WWII, then a key site for heavy industry during the communist era, Leipzig initially suffered heavily after reunification, with the demise of the planned economy, much of Leipzig’s industrial base fell into disuse and during the 1990s less than 10% of the city’s workforce was employed. Today the situation is much improved. Today the city stands as one of the finest examples of German economic reconstruction in the post Cold War era. As the world marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leipzig should be, and undoubtedly is, proud of the role it played. But what of today? Tomorrow? What defines Lepzig now and how will it be known in the future?
A decade of rejuvenation
The city has undergone an economic revival in the last decade, experiencing a 10% growth in population alongside its growth in business.
Manufacturing has made a comeback in the region two of Germany’s most recognisable car brands, BMW and Porche, and both have large factories north of the city with BMW alone employing 6000 workers. Leipzig has also become something of a logistics hub in recent years – Amazon and Future Electronics both have logistics centres in the city and DHL transferred the majority of its European air operations to Leipzig/Halle airport between 2011 and 2012. On the subject of transport, Leipzig is home to Europe’s oldest operating train station, the Bayerischer Bahnhof (now integrated into the Leipzig City Tunnel, opened last December) and the Leipzig Haupbanhof, part of which is also a newly developed shopping mall.
Leipzig is also home to the Leipziger Messe – the Leipzig Fair – which dates back 800 years and is regarded as the world’s oldest commercial fair. The city’s new exhibition centre, Leipzig New Fair, was opened in April 1996 with five exhibition halls and the Congress Center Leipzig. This modern space has been an attractive destination for congresses and trade fairs since its opening, attracting over a million visitors each year since 2006.
The Interior of the Leipziger Messe
There is a strong start-up culture in Leipzig and the city is attractive to entrepenurs with cheap rents and a wealth of available space owing to the city’s industrial past.The city capitalises on this by hosting ‘start-up weekends’, the most recent of which was held in May of this year. Leipzig had the honour of being named named as Europe’s 17th most innovative city in 2thinknow’s 2014 innovation index while also being classed as a ‘Nexus’ city, identifying it as being a critical hub for multiple economic and social innovation sectors.
A place of learning
Leipzig’s educational pedigree can speak for itself, the city hosts around 37,000 students and four public universites. The oldest of these – Leipzig University – was founded in 1409 and boasts current German Chancellor Angela Merkel among its alumni. The Academy of Visual Arts was established in 1764. It offers courses in painting and graphics, photography and media art to around 500 students. The University of Music and Theatre offers a broad range of subjects covering everything from orchestral conducting to scriptwriting. Finally there is the University of Applied Sciences Leipzig, with 7,000 students, it is the largest applied sciences university in Saxony. In additon to these public institutions – Leipzig also contains the privately funded Leipzig Graduate School of Management, the oldest business school in Germany, as well as multiple privately funded research institutions. Three of these belong to the prestigous Max Planck Society. These are the: Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
Life in Leipzig
In December 2013 Leipzig was named Germany’s most livable city in a study conducted by the GfK group, Germany’s largest market research organisation and in 2012 Leipzig scored ‘above average’ in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s German green cities index.
Leipzig is still enjoying steady growth as a city and its recent successes have earned it the nickname ‘hypezig’ its buzzing arts scene and a vibrant student population have led some commentators to call it the ‘new Berlin.’ Additionally, significant investment in infrastructure has transformed the city over the past two decades, clearing away much of the old crumbling housing of the communist era but still managing to retain the city’s uniquely industrial aesthetic. Recently, a new plan finalised in 2009 is intended to improve the city further through to 2020.
While it certainly pays respect to its history, Leipzig has definitively managed to shake off the dust of its past and is a city assuredly looking to the future. After all, the cream always rises to the top.
Mayor: Burkhard Jung
Key areas for investors: Manufacturing, auto Industry, logistics
University of Leipzig
What the Papers Say
In Germany’s East, Auto Makers Drive Leipzig’s Economic Revival (Wall Street Journal)
City of Leipzig (English): http://english.leipzig.de/
Germany Convention Bureau – Leipzig: http://www.germany.travel/en/gcb/mice/conferences/leipzig.html
Leipzig Trade Fair: http://www.leipziger-messe.com/