ULI Poland: Competitive Cities Conference

On Friday the 15th of May 2015 ULI held its first annual Competitive Cities conference in Warsaw, Poland. The programme was designed to inspire a dialogue between public leaders and entrepreneurial business leaders to think about how to make Polish cities more competitive. A key take-out was feedback from the business panel who were very positive about the open mind set of city representatives working to make cities more business friendly.

Other highlights included:

  • Rosemary Feenan, Global Head of Research for JLL, gave an opening key note speech where she described a new language for competitive cities focused on some of the influential factors cities need to consider in order to draw businesses in. The complexity of these factors had led JLL to develop new criteria to analyse the competitiveness of cities, creating Competitiveness Cobwebs, in which cities of similar sizes can be compared based on criteria including office stock, investment intensity, real estate transparency and country risk.
  • an international panel of speakers who spoke on the Key Ingredients of Competitive Cities. Speakers included former Mayor of Torino, Valentino Castellani, giving insights on the rebranding of Torino and the importance of long term goals and city identity and Mateu Hernandez, CEO of Barcelona Global, on how Barcelona wanted to add ‘Business cards’ to its existing ‘Postcard’ positioning strategy on the global stage.
  • a unique opportunity for Polish City representatives to pitch their respective cities strengths as well as where shared services and increased cooperation between neighbouring cities might strengthen Poland overall. The placement of Polish cities in European rankings, more investment in research and development and the battle against the car and air pollution were among the challenges discussed.
  • a third and final panel of property sector leaders discussed Vision vs Reality in Poland, what attracted them to working in Polish cities and what might persuade their companies to expand? Emphasis was placed on the value of human capital as a key asset for Poland.
  • Jordi Hereu, former Mayor of Barcelona, closed the conference by sharing his story of how Barcelona became competitive. He talked about fighting the decline of industry with resilient strategies and shared his 12 point competitiveness strategy. Key factors included building a legitimate strategy shared with all stakeholders and understanding that those involved ‘serve’ the city as part of a long term project rather than owning any one part.

City expert and ULI Senior Fellow Greg Clark moderated the conference throughout, providing attendees with many opportunities to interact on the key issues and to question the panellists.