In 2012, the gross domestic product of the West Pomerania province reached 60,3 billion PLN, which means an almost 3 billion PLN increase against the year 2011 However, the share of the province in the national GDP remained unaltered – viz. 3.8%. In comparison with the rest of the Polish territory, the results attained in the province can be acknowledged as average: according to preliminary data of GUS (Polish Census Bureau), both the share in the GDP and its value were quite diverse –the highest increase in the GDP was recorded in the Pomeranian Province, viz. 5.9%, and the smallest - in the Silesian province, viz. 2.2%.In West Pomerania, it reached 4.5%. The shares of the respective provinces in the GDP were also quite different – viz. from 2.1% in the Oppeln (Opole) province, 4.4% in the Cuyavia-Pomeranian province, 5.7 % in the Pomeranian, and eventually, 22.7% in the Mazovian. Instead, in the year 2012, GDP per capita ranged from 27,719 PLN in the Subcarpathian (podkarpackie) province (67 % of national average) to 68,299 PLN w in Mazovia (165 % of national average). In West Pomerania, this value reached 35,006 (84,6 % of average value).
Companies and employment
In the year 2013, in the West Pomeranian province were registered 219,579 companies viz. 5,39 % of all companies registered all over Poland, with the population share being 4,4 %. According to the Marshal Office of Stettin, in 2012, the province had the second highest rate of companies registered per 10,000 inhabitants in Poland - 1261 business entities, the average value being 1032, and was preceded only by the Mazovian province (1319). Not only is the rate value in the region considerably higher, but also its dynamics is higher than average. The increase was recorded even in the years 2008-2009, when this rate fell down all over Poland. These trends regard both town and rural areas. In 2012, in the West Pomeranian Province 75.8% of companies rendered services, 1.3% of business entities operated in industry and in the construction sector, and 2.8% - in agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing.
According to the latest data published by the Census Bureau (GUS) in Stettin, the employment level in the companies of the West Pomeranian province (September 2014) was lower than in September 2013, but increased if compared with the last August. The unemployment rate in the West Pomeranian province is higher than the national average – 15.2% in September (average national rate – 11.5%), and remained on the same level like a month before; instead, the rate of unemployment fell if compared with September 2013.In September,the average gross monthly remuneration in the enterprise sector was higher than the national average, and reached 4.2%. The province distinguishes itself with a considerable social and economic differentiation between the western and the eastern part, the latter being now at a disadvantage, but there is a trend towards the elimination of today’s disproportions. In the Koeslin (Koszalin) subregion, the unemployment rate is higher, the migration balance – unfavorable, the value of production sold is lower, and people’s incomes are also low.
Traffic and transport infrastructure
Strong points of the West Pomeranian province are, among others, its geographical position in the border zone, well developed Stettin (Szczecin) and Koeslin (Koszalin) agglomerations with attractive investment areas, a large number of farms producing health food, rich tourism resources , health resorts and eventually, well-developed accommodation services in the coastal belt. Of big importance in the regional economy is also tourism, which results from natural resources of the region.
According to the 2012 year data, the total length of roads in the province was 13,647,2 km (a 4.9 % share in the national road network); instead, the total length of railway lines was 1254 km. Intended is a modernization of the Stettin –Berlin railway line, but nothing has been decided as yet.
Both agglomerations would like that the works on this project should be accelerated (in October, they even signed a resolution in this matter), but the final word rests with the Polish and German ministries.
There are works aimed at extending the road infrastructure. The province has a large international airport of Stettin – Goleniów, adapted to civil passenger and freight services. A 1.5 hours car ride is enough to reach Berlin.The region lies by important international road routes, viz.: E-28 –the shortest connection between West and East Europe, and E-65 and E-59 – the shortest route between Nordic countries, Central and Southern Europe.
A communications asset of the West Pomeranian province is direct access to the sea and well developed port facilities. There are four trade sea ports in the province: Stettin (Szczecin), Swinemunde (Świnoujście), Kolberg (Kołobrzeg) and Police, as well as ten small Baltic ports. There is a ferry terminal in Swinemunde (Świnoujście) which guarantees connections with Sweden and Denmark. Last year, the transshipment volume in the port of Stettin increased by 7 %, and was the highest after the 1980s. There are good prospects also for the year 2014. The port of Stettin –Swinemunde (Szczecin-Świnoujście) will complete soon the performance of an investment package for the years 2010-2015, with a budget of 500 million PLN. The investment portfolio in the successive period is worth 1 billion PLN., and it includes, among others, projects aimed at improving access to the port both from the sea and the land. According to the data for the ten months of 2014, the volume of containers transshipped in the ports of Stettin and Swinemunde rose by 22%.
The West Pomeranian province is ranked high among provinces in several investment categories; the ranking is made at yearly intervals by the Instytut Badań nad Gospodarką Rynkową (Institute for Market Economy Research).In the latest 2013 edition, West Pomeranian won the third place in two categories, viz. ‘Transport availability’, and was surpassed by Mazovia and Greater Poland, and in ‘Province’s activity towards investors’ (after Lower Silesia and Pomerania).The province took the following places in the respective categories: tenth in labor resources and costs, ninth – in outlet (market), eighth in business infrastructure, sixth – social infrastructure, eleventh – general safety.Generally speaking, West Pomeranian took the seventh place in the ranking of investment attractiveness.
The region was ranked among the provinces which distinguish themselves with exceptional promotional and informative activity, by making use of Trade and Investment Promotion Sections; the Regional Investor Service Bureau in the West Pomeranian province was awarded with distinction in the certification process performed by PAIiIZ (Polish Agency for Information and Foreign Investments). Evaluated were the cooperation in the field of investor service, practical and technical preparation and skills of investment-oriented presentation of the region).
In the ‘Transport availability’ category”, the IBnGR (Research Institute of Market Economy) emphasized in particular the proximity to the western border, very good access to public transport and a high level of development of transport and logistic sectors. Instead, a weak point of West Pomerania in this category is a low density of road network, a great distance from Warsaw and a reduced intensity of air passenger transport.
The attractiveness of the province will be improved by a Territorial contract for West Pomerania, adopted by the Council of Ministers on 4 November 2014. The contract includes local projects of more than regional importance or the prerequisite for the regional development. Those projects are crucial investments for the province and aimed at making transport in the region more streamlined; then, they will also improve access to West Pomerania and will stimulate the development of the Stettin –Swinemunde harbor facilities. Eventually, there is also mentioned the construction of the Oder Waterway and railway projects.
Specialties and human resources
The specialty of the province is bioeconomy in which predominant are the following sectors: wood processing and furniture, agroalimentary, renewable energy (RE), green chemistry, materials technology and packing industry. A dynamic development regards sea services and logistics (sea economy, off-shore, multimodal transport services and logistic centers), metal and machinery industry (precision metal working, shipbuilding sector, large sized constructions, mechanics, automatic control and automotive). As far as future services are concerned, the region relies and focuses on ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), centres of advanced services in the field of KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) analyses and expert’s opinions, R+D (research and development) and engineering services West Pomeranian is a good place for intensifying classical and health tourism.
Other assets of the province are researchers and engineers as well as a large number of university level schools, colleges and students who may find jobs in regional industry and services .The job offer in the region is estimated at around 120,000. In 2012, in West Pomerania there were 20 university level schools and colleges with 62,500 students. Then, in West Pomerania there are many majors and lines of study, unique on a European and national scale, e.g. Europejskie Centrum Szkolenia LNG (European LNG Training Centre) established with the Maritime Academy of Stettin for future specialists in LNG trade.
Foreign investors and Polish companies
There are many foreign companies operating in West Pomerania. In the Goleniow Industrial Park, a Danish captain of industry - LM Wind Power Blades – manufactures wind turbine blades.At Goleniow is also seated Swedwood – a Swedish concern linked to IKEA and operating in the wood processing and furniture sector. Saw-mills and plants owned by the concern are scattered all over the region and Poland.
Carlsberg produces Bosman (Boatswain) beer in Stettin. In Koeslin (Koszalin) an important investor is Royal Greenland Seafood, the biggest European fish processing company. In this town, Portuguese Jeronimo Martins has commissioned a logistic centre. Japanese Bridgestone manufactures truck and automobile tires in the Industrial Park of Modern technologies in Stargard Szczeciński. In Stargard operates also Finnish Cargotec, a top world manufacturer of sea and land cargo handling machinery. In 2009, the Polska Agencja Informacji i Inwestycji Zagranicznych (Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency) acknowledged this project as the biggest foreign investment in Poland. Cargotec, owner of such brands, like Kalmar and Hiab, employs almost 10,000 people worldwide, and its turnover in 2012 was as high as 4,3 billion USD.
Another key investor in Stargard Szczeciński is also MTU Polska; then, there are also the companies belonging to Tognum, a German concern, specialized in drive and power systems. Tognum Company has also opened a R&D centre.
There are more than 1 300 companies with foreign capital registered in West Pomerania. Predominant are companies from Scandinavia, Germany and other European countries, but there operate as well companies from the USA, China. Other investors come from India, Japan or Korea. The Netto chain of discount is seated in Poland. A big employer in the province is Koszalińskie Przedsiębiorstwo Przemysłu Drzewnego (Wood Processing Industry Enterprise) seated in Szczecinek (Neustettin), one of the top national manufacturers of wooden articles (coniferous and hardwood timber). A strong player in the region are also Zespół Elektrowni Dolna Odra ( Lower Oder Complex of Power Stations) and ‘Police’ Chemical Works belonging to ‘Azoty’ Group (which imports raw materials, among others, from Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Senegal mines, and is a major exporter).Big investments in West Pomerania are intended, among others, by Teleyard (steel branch) and Bilfinger which manufactures foundations for wind farms. A project which is crucial for energy security in Poland and in this part of Europe is to be accomplished by the Company Polskie LNG which constructs a LNG terminal in Swinemunde.This project is accompanied by an extension of road network and gas connections.
Good wind conditions are also a strong point in the region: in 2012, the wind speed in Koeslin (Koszalin) was 3,5 m/s, in Stettin – 3,8 m/s, and for example in Warsaw - 3,1 m/s. Wind farms and investors who build plants for the wind power sector are mushrooming in West Pomerania. The bigger farms in Poland are exactly West Pomerania at Tymien, Cisowo and Zagórze. The biggest (and the highest in Poland) wind farm will be built by PGE Company in the community of Mielechowo, county of Slawno. Windmills can be up to 150 m high.The province is also prepared for developing the sea wind power sector: for this purpose might be used a part of the Baltic zone in the Polish economic zone (more than 12 nautical miles offshore). According o the report TPA Horwath, ‘Energetyka wiatrowa w Polsce 2013”, (Wind energy sector in Poland in 2013), the West Pomeranian Province is the leader in the wind power industry.
Investors can be given strong support in the province. There are many centers helping investors select the investment site, giving them advice and legal assistance. Such assistance is offered by the Centrum Obsługi Inwestorów i Eksporterów (COIE) Urzedu Marszałkowskiego (Centre for Investor and Exporter Service) at the Marshal’s Office which is a regional partner of the Polska Agencja Informacji i Inwestycji Zagranicznych (Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency). The COIE is also called ‘one stop shop” for the range of assistance it offers – from information on legal matters pertinent to investment site, aid programs, investment incentives to specific offers of investment sites.
As about the number of centers of innovation and entrepreneurship (this term includes technological parks, incubators, transfer technology centers, seed capital funds, Business Angels, local and regional loan funds, Credit Guarantee Funds, training and consulting centers), West Pomerania takes the seventh place among all provinces. According to the report entitled ‘Ośrodki Innowacji I Przedsiębiorczości w Polsce. 2012” (Centers for innovation and entrepreneurship in Poland in 2012) in West Pomerania there were 46 centers (most of them were in Silesia - 6, fewest in the Oppeln province -15). In 2011, there were 4665 companies per one centre.