Written by 18:06 Financial Centre, Member, TOP-NEWS

Offenbach Economic Development presents annual report 2023

Economic development in Offenbach am Main continues to make progress even in challenging times. The 2023 annual report from the city’s economic development agency shows how progress is being made at the location in concrete terms.

Samson AG celebrated the ground-breaking ceremony for its new company headquarters on the Innovation Campus, while technology company Danfoss moved into its new German headquarters in the Kaiserlei district. The pioneering Rockywood building complex was built in the harbour and attractive new offerings found their audience in the city centre.

"We are far from finished, but we are demonstrably on the right track."

“With a clear strategy and committed experts, we are creating facts and thus realising our projects from the master plan and the city centre future concept step by step,” emphasised Lord Mayor and Head of Economic Affairs Dr Felix Schwenke at the presentation of the report on 5 February 2024. This can be seen, for example, on the Innovation Campus: since the ground-breaking ceremony for the new headquarters of Samson AG in June, the construction machinery has been rolling in and the mega investment project is right on schedule. “This shows just how efficient our administration is: we were able to approve two building applications from Samson in 2023 thanks to the hard work of our specialist departments together with the municipal utilities,” said the mayor.

The solution-orientated “Best OF Service” approach of the entire administration, which has been tried and tested for years, contributed to this success:

"Under this motto "Best OF Service", we are also constantly evolving, both in terms of personnel and organisation."

For example, Agentur Mitte has been able to recruit two new employees, which will significantly increase its effectiveness in developing the city centre. “We are also linking our business development and property departments more and more closely, which is creating new synergies, especially in view of the increasing scarcity of space in the city centre.” This strategic land policy supports new companies in setting up in the city centre as well as local companies.

Danfoss: a prime example of development at the site

The design of the future Offenbach is based on the Masterplan 2030, for which Albert Speer und Partner carried out a comprehensive check-up last year. The result: since 2016, a third of the measures have been realised, 45 percent are currently being implemented and 14 hectares of potential areas in commercial and mixed-use zones have been developed. The successes – particularly in the harbour and on the Innovation Campus – are helping Offenbach to be perceived as young, hip, creative and dynamic. The “Soul OF Hessen” city brand introduced in 2023 picks up on this feeling as charmingly as it does successfully. The task now is to consistently pursue the key projects of the masterplan.

This also includes the Kaiserlei neighbourhood. A prime example of the development at this location was Danfoss moving in: after 50 years in the Bieber-Waldhof industrial estate, the technology company moved into its new administrative and sales headquarters with 400 workstations in the LEIQ office building. In addition to district heating from EVO, the ultra-modern building directly on the River Main utilises the world market leader’s own air conditioning technology for its CO2 neutrality, which is pioneering throughout Germany. The development in Offenbach harbour is also future-oriented: the Rockywood building complex was built in 2023, in less than a year’s construction time, largely in sustainable wood-hybrid construction and is now almost completely let. In addition to the bicycle manufacturer Advanced Technologies and the communications agency TMS, the exciting circular economy hub – called “Circle” – is moving in under the leadership of the Frankfurt-based waste disposal and forwarding company Blasius Schuster KG. Its aim is to attract as many participants as possible in order to improve the circular economy, particularly in the construction sector. “This is a cooperation in a future-oriented industry that is profitable for everyone involved,” emphasised Schwenke. “With Rockywood, our harbour district is now also taking an important step forward as a commercial and office location.”

“Out OF the box”: New networks create exciting ideas

The establishment of networks plays a major role overall: everyone involved continues to “get out of the box” and pull together, they dare to try new things and develop Offenbach further together. With this in mind, the Kaiserlei Business Club was launched in March 2023. The core idea of the initiative is to see the district as a joint neighbourhood development by owners and the city and to focus on the needs of users. One of the first ideas is a sports and cultural park below the A661 motorway – a project that is actively supported by Danfoss, among others.

Interest in space in Offenbach remains at a high level: the Economic Development Agency received more than 200 enquiries on a wide range of space and utilisation topics in 2023. “Half of these again came from interested parties who are not yet active in Offenbach. This also underlines the attractiveness of our location,” said the Mayor. Among other things, he promoted Offenbach at the World Economic Forum in Davos and together with Head of Office Niermann at MIPIM in Cannes, one of the most important meetings of the international property industry. In 2023, the high-calibre TOP 100 meeting and the traditional real estate breakfast took place on site again.

As the report shows, Offenbach continues to be “Full OF Ideas”: the city remains at the top of the country in terms of start-up intensity and has also improved its top ranking nationwide. It is now presenting the “Gründerstadt Offenbach” offerings in a new look, and the mentoring programme has been given a breath of fresh air with a new mentor in 2023. At the Impact Festival, Europe’s largest event for sustainable technologies and innovations, which once again took place in Offenbach, Gründerstadt Offenbach presented itself for the first time in September 2023 at a joint stand with the city and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. “The aim is to accelerate the green transition together and make future topics more visible,” reported Božica Niermann. Interest is growing: in 2023, 3,100 people visited the Impact Festival on the Fredenhagen site, 600 more than the year before.

“Heart OF Our City”: creating open spaces for everyone

With the aim of creating a vibrant “Heart OF Our City”, the city of Offenbach is also actively promoting the development of the city centre. A cooperation between City Management, which is part of the Economic Development Department, the municipal Office for Cultural Management and the German Weather Service has created a permanent attraction there: the Weather and Climate Workshop (WKW) moved into new, larger premises in the city centre in spring 2023. The exhibition space, which now covers 390 square metres, gives it much more room for an interactive space for experiencing and learning about weather and climate. This makes the vision for the city centre a little more visible: the future concept creates a multidimensional centre by 2030 that meets all needs – retail and supply, participation and representation, culture and community, work and living.

The Central Business Development Agency is currently dedicated to the overall coordination of 16 future projects from this concept. Its team was expanded to three positions in 2023, significantly increasing its capacities and expertise. As a basic building block for a forward-looking city centre, Agentur Mitte drove forward the development of the former police shop. The pilot project was used as an open space for everyone throughout the year: as a city space, a bike space and a youth space. Various target groups came together around the town hall pavilion at a variety of events, and the town courtyard was also used. The continued dialogue “Thinking Openly” with three workshops and the HfG project “Diamant Offenbach”, a temporary “Museum of Urban Culture”, also brought a lot of movement to the city centre. The pilot project “Testraum-Allee” was a successful conclusion in 2023: with the OF 10 – OFTEN mini department stores’, it heralded the renaissance of Frankfurter Strasse around the first Advent. “The premiere was a success,” emphasised Schwenke: high-quality design products, international cuisine and a varied supporting programme proved to be crowd-pullers.

The agile, dynamic local cultural and creative scene offers innovative products and services on a daily basis. The Economic Development Agency has been helping to network, strengthen and raise the profile of the mostly small companies in Offenbach since 2007. In 2023, numerous events were organised for this purpose – such as the industry get-together “Into the Wild”, the “Into Design” festival and the creative industries summer festival. There was also a cooperation with the city’s Klingspor Museum. The “Power OF Design” is present in many places in the creative city and has gained further strength in 2023. In order to advance the Designpark project on the Innovation Campus and the urban transformation in Offenbach as a whole, the city signed a cooperation agreement with the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) in the summer. In addition, the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region – and therefore Offenbach – was awarded the internationally renowned title of “World Design Capital” for the year 2026.

Outlook 2024

The economic development agency’s annual report shows that Offenbach offers a wealth of prospects and the “Future OF Business” will continue in 2024. “Samson’s electronics production facility on the Innovation Campus is set to go into operation in the course of the year,” announced Schwenke. The relocation of the industrial company from Frankfurt to Offenbach with around 2,000 employees should be completed by the end of 2026. By the end of this decade, when the biotech company BioSpring has also built new production facilities on the Innovation Campus, more people will be working there than in the heyday of the chemical industry in the 1970s. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that these economic prospects become reality,” assured the mayor.

The Kaiserlei district will continue to be developed into a premium business location at the interface to Frankfurt. In order to initiate the development of the former KWU site, the city adapted the building law for the area in question to the existing plans in November. “We are now remaining committed to supporting our partners in finding a solution in order to realise flats for 1,500 students from 2024 as well as the other plans for the site,” said Schwenke.

Now that the location for Station Mitte has been decided, this key project to revitalise the city centre can really get going. The new knowledge, learning and meeting place is just as important for the development of the city centre as it is for education in Offenbach. “In 2024, we will spend more money on the city centre, which we will use to test innovative shop concepts in addition to the Station Mitte, we will improve our intervention options with the pre-emption rights statute and we will once again reorganise our administration internally on the subject of the city centre,” announced the mayor. “We are actively shaping the future of our city – and we are happy to do so.” The closing words in the annual report invite all interested parties to get involved.

Economic report 2023

Economic development in Offenbach am Main continues to make progress even in challenging times. The 2023 annual report from the city's economic development agency shows how progress is being made at the location in concrete terms.

Source:  News from the city of Offenbach from 6 February 2023
Photos: Unsplash, City of Offenbach

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