The West Pomeranian Voivodeship offers services and goods attractive for investors to a greater extent than in other regions of Poland because they stem from the specific character of the voivodeship. Its location – the long sea border and close relations with Germany and Scandinavia – makes it easier to take advantage of, buy and use services and goods for the purposes of own business activities.
The Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency(PAIiIZ) identifies four specializations of the West Pomerania Voivodeship: BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), logistics, renewable energy sources (wind power industry) and tourism.
The importance of BPO is due to the educational potential of the city of Szczecin, which is a strong university center with a large number of graduates in all kinds of academic fields – from philology to exact sciences, economy, computer science and engineering. The city is oriented on the development of services and high-tech technologies and it is conducting special educational programs aiming at creating the biggest pool of employees fluently speaking foreign languages and well oriented in the field of IT. One of the strengths of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship BPO are low labor costs. The big employees pool for BPO is ensured by the “Szczeciński Park Naukowo-Technologiczny” (Szczecin technology and science park) or the “klaster.it” ITC cluster encompassing 100 local IT companies. The West Pomeranian Voivodeship creates incentives for the investors, for example Szczecin offers the possibility to include new office building in a special economic zone (SEZ), which, as a consequence, can open to the tenants the opportunity to benefit from tax exemptions provided by SEZ. Also, together with the Poviat Employment Agency, the offers intended for investors have been prepared.
The companies such as BLStream or Arvato Polska, belonging to the Bertelsmann group, are already operating in the BPO industry. Arvato provides services in the scope of high-tech IT solutions, mass correspondence (lettershop), dispatch and distribution of products (logistics), multi-channel customer services (contact center), loyalty programs management, specialized financial services (mainly factoring, monitoring and debt collection, financial BPO), e-commerce, healthcare and document management. The company employs over 2300 people at eight locations in Poland and 200 employees in the Contact Center in Szczecin.
In 2012 in Szczecin, Metro Services has opened the service center supporting financial-accounting processes of companies belonging to the Metro Group – one of the biggest international trade groups in the world. Also UniCredit Group, Tieto, BLStream, Arvato Services, Stream International or Coloplast Shared Services have located their BPO centers in the West Pomerania Voivodeship.
Logistic advantages of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship result from its location: the region has the Baltic Sea deep sea port which is situated the closest to the Atlantic Ocean, the 60-km long Odra River corridor adapted to the passage of seagoing vessels, connections with the highway systems of Western Europe - E65(Scandinavia-Prague) and E28 (Berlin – Gdańsk - Saint Petersburg), there is also the S3 express road connecting Scandinavia (through the ferry crossing in Świnoujście) with Southern Europe. The voivodeship offers access to a navigable river providing inland waterway connections with the rivers of all Western Europe. PAIiIZ underlines that the Baltic Sea region is the fastest developing area in the European Union. Logistic capabilities of West Pomerania are increased by existing railway lines providing connections between Scandinavia (E59, through the ferry crossing) and Southern Europe and to Western Europe (E28) from Hamburg through Berlin, Gdańsk and Kaliningrad, as well as by the transnational initiative of constructing a transport corridor from Scandinavia to the Adriatic Sea (Central European Transport Corridor – CETC).
The port complex of Szczecin – Police – Świnoujście has a huge cargo handling potential. It is the biggest seaport complex in Poland and a seat of international and Polish ship owners: Unity Line, Polish Steamship Company, Euroafrica Shipping Lines, Polish Baltic Shipping Company. The Szczecin port has a free zone as well as underused transport infrastructure facilities (including wharves).
The Szczecin – Świnoujście seaport complex is the biggest place of bulk goods transshipment on the Baltic Sea and it provides transport infrastructure for the economies of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Greater Poland, Upper and Lower Silesia, Czech Republic and Hungary. Ports are conducting expansion projects for their bulk and container terminals (new wharves and container terminals on Ostrów Grabowski of the area of 55 thousand m2, West Pomeranian Logistics Center using access to sea and river berths, railway and motorway infrastructures). West Pomerania has rich research and development base training personnel in logistics, port operations, transport economics (Maritime University in Szczecin, West Pomeranian University of Technology, Koszalin University of Technology).
The voivodeship attractiveness shall increase if Polskie LNG – the company responsible for the construction and operation of the liquid gas terminal in Świnoujście – extends the scope of services by refueling ships cruising the Baltic Sea and by reloading of LNG to smaller ships. So far, the company is researching the market and has signed a letter of intent with PGNiG SA (both companies declare the will to undertake joint actions within the scope of expanding and developing additional services for the LNG terminal). The ship fuel market can turn out to be very attractive since the demanding EU environmental regulations will force the ships cruising Baltic Sea to choose more environmentally friendly fuel and LNG is unrivalled in this respect.
Wind Power industry
Renewable energy sources in West Pomerania is primarily wind power. This industry is developing very fast in the region due to the best wind conditions in Poland. Seaside communes are interested in developing wind farms due to related tax benefits. The market interests both Polish as well as German and Danish investors. In the voivodeship not only wind farms, but also factories producing equipment for them, both for Poland and for export, are being set up. The market has high industrial potential and offers qualified personnel. Big players from the renewable energy sources sector, such as LM Wind Power Blades, InCom in the Goleniów Industrial Park, Vestas, are already present in the region.
The offshore wind power industry has not started to develop yet. West Pomerania is interested in investing in this branch, but it is obstructed by unregulated legal and environmental issues. If they are solved by legislature, the market should be very attractive – the Baltic Sea wind conditions are comparable to the North Sea ones where offshore wind power industry is rapidly expanding. The Baltic Sea has an advantage over the North Sea of being shallower and therefore more attractive to investors.
The appeal of tourist services in West Pomerania is due to natural qualities of the region: almost two hundred kilometers of seacoast, wide beaches and steep cliffs, over three thousand clean lakes, excellent conditions for water sports (including sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, kitesurfing), forests covering a large proportion of the region, two national parks (Wolin and Drawa National Parks) and seven landscape parks. West Pomerania has a strong potential for the development of health resort tourism – here are the well known health resorts in Świnoujście and Kołobrzeg as well as therapeutic mud deposits (Kamień Pomorski, Kołobrzeg, Połczyn Zdrój, Międzyzdroje, Świnoujście). Agrotourism services, golf courses and spa resorts are on a very high level.