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CEE Summit: Poland’s new infrastructure unlocked Tricity

Olivia Business Centre, Gdansk.

Poland’s dramatically improved infrastructure has helped the Baltic-facing Tricity area achieve equally dramatic growth according to speakers at the Investment Region in Focus: Gdansk & Tricity session of the recent CEE summit, staged by Real Asset Media on the REALX.Global platform.

Tricity area is the biggest agglomeration in northern Poland and consists of Gdnask, Gdynia and Sopot. There are 1.6 million residents, two harbours and an international airport, points out Adam Schroeder, associate and regional director northern Poland, Cushman & Wakefield. “It’s important to have smooth connections,” said Schroeder.

“Not long ago, Poland did not have a modern transport infrastructure system. When it became available it boosted the mobility of employees and Polish workforce. It no longer takes a whole day to get to Tricity, it’s a matter of hours,” he said.

Along with other attractions, this has made the Tricity area a magnet for people and businesses from all over northern Poland. And therein lies one of the other most frequently cited attractions of the area – its multi skilled workforce.

Tricity decision ‘not all that obvious at the time’

“When we made the decision [to open an office in Gdansk] five years ago the region was developing in terms of business services sector,” said Maciej Przybylowski, partner and head of CEE financial crime team at PwC. “It is still a very rapidly developing region but it was not a decision that was all that obvious at the time. We saw the huge potential of the region against other more saturated parts of the country,” he said. “We saw a big and talented pool of labour and the natural beauty of the Tricity area which makes it a great place to live and work – looking back I think we made the right decision.”

Rafal Stepnowski, director of government affairs at Boeing said that the local talent pool remains important even though the attractions of the Tricity area mean that it is possible to recruit from further afield.

The local university also played a key role in the economic growth of the region. The IT business that Stepnowski started and which became part of the aircraft manufacturer was associated with university, in part because at the time that was the only office space available. In fact, academia and the a local heritage of entrepreneurship saw the local branches of Amazon, Intel and Boeing all originate from the same university building.

As transport infrastructure has developed, so too have business premises. Jake Jephcott, chief development officer, TonsaRAIF said that the decision to develop the 200,000 sq m Olivia Business Centre in Gdansk was also a response to the change in sentiment that had occurred.

“It was always our home market and a natural choice for us. We felt something was going to happen here and there had been a lack of office product – it had been a tourist destination,” he said. “Business was starting to locate here but there was a feeling that office product could be a key to getting more companies into the area – that was a gap in the market that we saw.”

He said that the decision to build the Olivia Business Centre came out of the fact that there was a great plot of land for sale next to the university. “Gdansk had the scale and size to absorb a big office project,” Jephcott added.