Saarland's economic transformation has seen it develop into an attractive and innovative economic and research hub. A highly effective and balanced structure provides the ideal environment for numerous pioneering fields which can provide a competitive edge. In addition to a strong motor industry and other fast growing sectors of industry, development primarily centres on technology-focused production and service companies.
The state's central location in one of the most economically stable regions of the world makes it an enticing location for companies from all economic sectors. Its close cooperation with neighbouring France and Luxembourg means that Saarland has always had an international focus. This is an asset that is highly valued by its resident, globally oriented companies.
An attractive region
The successful transformation of economic structures has more than replaces the roughly 80,000 jobs that have been lost since 1960 through agreed redundancy programmes in the coal mines and steel works. Today the workforce in Saarland is actually larger than ever before. Almost 60 years after its economic integration into the Federal Republic, the state has developed into one of Germany's strongest regions in terms of growth and exports. Once coal mining ended, the local steel industry experienced a renaissance. Since the turn of the century it has been one of the strongest-growing sectors in the state, producing high-quality steels and using innovative process technology. This strong industrial foundation has led to major successes in attracting firms, e.g. Ford in Saarlouis, ZF in Saarbrücken, Fresenius in St. Wendel as well as Bosch and Michelin in Homburg – to name just a few. Well over 200 industrial businesses now employ over 116,000 workers.
How industry secures our future
Saarland is traditionally an industrial state. But it's also an industrial state with a future. Companies that are confident about their future successfully seek opportunities in the German and international markets.
A strong information technology base gives the region new opportunities for the progressive digitisation of production. The strategic "Saarland Industrieland" (“Saarland Region of Industry") mission statement describes the way forward in this respect and provides answers about the type of modern jobs that may be provided by "Industry 4.0".
Small and medium-sized companies should also benefit from this development. For instance, htw saar is playing its part by undertaking several specific projects, and the new "Power-4Production" (Centre for Innovative Production Technologies) is also doing its bit. This cooperation platform for engineers and scientists focuses on the intelligent networking of products and production environments. The Zentrum für Mechatronik und Automatisierungstechnik (Mechatronics and Automation Technology Centre) (ZeMA) and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) work closely with the universities. ZF Friedrichshafen is just one of the companies using P4P to prepare its production processes for the future. Saarland is taking a pioneering role in relation to technologies for the "factory of the future".
Competitive in global markets
Products from Saarland enjoy an excellent reputation around the world. Villeroy & Boch's fine crockery and attractively styled bathroom ceramics are export hits, as do the fuse boxes made by Hager Group, one of the world's leading companies in the field of electrical installations. There are also other "hidden champions" which the "Lange Nacht der Industrie" night-time open-door event already lets you take a peek at in mid-October every year.
Saarland is one of the most important car manufacturing locations in Germany. Over 40,000 jobs in Saarland are directly linked to the manufacture of vehicles. The employees of Ford's plants alone produce 1,650 vehicles a day. In addition, local suppliers like Bosch, Nemak, Schaeffler, Thyssen-Krupp, Michelin and ZF fit the engines, gearboxes and drivetrains of numerous cars around the world with state-of-the-art technology, emission-reducing vehicle electronics, and precision-manufactured components.
Saarland's steel industry is very well placed in markets around the world in terms of the technology and quality of its products. Thanks to their quality and special properties, the steel products that are manufactured in Saarland are in demand throughout Europe and the whole world for unusual and technically demanding projects. Saarland has also taken to the high seas with the largest passenger liner in the world, the Queen Mary II. The steel in the hull and sides of this ocean giant was produced by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dillinger Hütte. Dillinger uses quality steel to reinforce modern buildings in many places around the world. Examples include the Shanghai World Financial Center, the six-highest skyscraper in the world, and the Olympic stadium in Athens.
Saarland is an attractive place to live and do business: it provides a wide range of excellent study opportunities, ideal conditions for young families with or without children, an attractive jobs market, and above all a strong, competitive economy with a high export ratio. Unfortunately, Saarland's locational advantages are under-appreciated in the rest of Germany. In a situation where companies urgently need skilled workers, Saarland-Marketing has set itself the following goals: telling skilled workers and managers from all over Germany about Saarland's attractiveness as a place to do business and live; establishing a welcoming culture; recruiting and keeping its own staff within the state; and making the people of Saarland ambassadors for the state.
Good reasons to start a business
On average, every business start-up creates between three and four new jobs. This is crucially important for securing the state's path to the future. That's why the advice network provided by the start-up initiative 'Saarland Offensive für Gründer' (SOG) has become an important element of economic policy. Experienced experts act as mentors, for example in the regular SOG "advice shops" or at the start-up fair. Good business ideas shouldn't not end up in a drawer but should be used to enrich Saarland's economy. And an online facility for attracting new recruits facilitates business succession within companies.