Located on the banks of Vistula River; the largest city in Poland, and its capital – Warsaw is one of the main economic hubs in Central-Eastern Europe. In terms of population, Warsaw is the 9th largest city in the European Union. As the most economically developed Polish city with the highest GDP per capita, Warsaw is considered the most attractive place for investment in the whole country.
Although, Warsaw’s business activity revolves around services industry – including financial intermediation, business services, telecommunications and education – the city has developed an impressive portfolio of other branches, predominantly manufacturing of means of transportation and petrochemical industry.
With the largest international airport in Poland, Warsaw is becoming an increasingly important place on the map, when it comes to business travel and tourism. Warsaw Chopin Airport handles almost 50% of the whole passenger traffic in Poland, with 10 million passengers passing through the airport each year. Its destinations are in almost every country of the world – Asian and Australian connections are gaining popularity among the passengers.
Warsaw is located at the intersection of traffic routes and in the trans-European traffic corridors. This provides connections to the largest cities of Poland and Europe.
Warsaw’s infrastructure has undergone significant upgrades and improvement over recent decades, as a result of a growing economy and direct foreign investment. Three years ago, the city was going through major modernizations of the road and railroad infrastructure as part of the preparations to the Euro 2012 Tournament - the capital of Poland was one of the Host Cities. One of the main investments in the railroad network, implemented in 2010, was to continue the modernization of the E65 route, section Warsaw-Gdańsk with the view to shorten travel time on this connection from 6 to 3.5 hours. The Warsaw Central Station (Warszawa Centralna) has also undergone a major upgrade as part of the preparations to Euro 2012 Tournament. The station currently operates frequent international services to destinations throughout Europe, alongside extensive regional services to surrounding areas. The railroad connection between the Chopin Airport and city centre has also been considerably improved.
The city's growth and development over the past decade has been tremendous. Therefore, Warsaw currently scores much higher in the ranks as an attractive city for investors. The capital is among top five European cities with highest office development activity - its competitiveness and vibrant labour market makes it a perfect place to do business in.
The economy of Warsaw is driven by a strong services sector with key sectors including retail and trade, business, transport, education and banking. As the home of the major financial institutions such as the National Bank of Poland and the Warsaw Stock Exchange as well as a number of private financial institutions, the city has established itself as the financial and banking centre for the region.
Although the size of the industry sector has reduced over recent decades, Warsaw's manufacturing still produces a significant proportion of the regional GDP. The city enjoys the greatest concentration of electronic and high tech companies producing goods for the consumer markets, whilst the food processing industry also thrives.
Warsaw's companies shine the most in the galaxy of businesses in Poland. The mere fact that unemployment in the capital in November 2013 was only 4.8% says a lot about the economical status of the city. Warsaw is not only the main employment provider able to serve almost every jobseeker but it also produces highly qualified and skilled workforce for every industry. Unsurprisingly, this is why many investors decide to move their companies or set up new branches by the Vistula River.
The businesses in Warsaw do not seem to be touched by the recent economical crisis. Three companies from Warsaw were among the top ten Polish businesses awarded the Forbes Diamond - an accolade for the companies that recorded the biggest growth. The top of the rank belongs to Alfred Toepfer International, a company existing on the global market since 1919 with a slogan "Let it grow". ATI sell produce, predominantly grain, edible fats and forage – 53 million tonnes annually. Third on the list was Petrax sp. z o.o. and Rockwell Automation sp. z o.o. came 5th. The core business of the former focuses on trading petrochemicals and fuels within EC countries, while the latter provides automation solutions to blue chip companies in Poland and around the world.
Warsaw is the largest academic centre in Poland, with 78 universities and 268,500 students in 2012. Educational opportunities in Warsaw attract students from all over Poland and, as a result, the number of well-educated graduates ready to enter the job market continues to grow. One of the most popular courses in Warsaw is Economics & Administration, with around 66,000 students who chose this field of study in 2012. Moreover, the city boasts a large group of engineering students (37,500) who seek employment at companies involved in research and development.
Warsaw has 35 scientific establishments ranked by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education as the best in Poland. Altogether, they represent all disciplines important for investors and include chemical and process engineering, electronics and information technologies (Warsaw University of Technology); economic science (Warsaw School of Economics); as well as research and clinical establishments (Polish Academy of Sciences).
Immune to the crisis that badly affected construction industry, Warsaw is a leader among the capitals of the Central European countries – with 4 million square meters of office space. According to Cushman & Wakefield, in 2013, the city gained another 300,000 sq.m. The sole Orange Town complex in Warszawa Ochota is the source of 44,000 sq.m. of offices at a top standard.
Office buildings that have been erected in the last decade are becoming more impressive: equipped with technology, energy savvy, eco-friendly and finished to a maximum high standard. No wonder they attract top international companies ready to move their headquarters to those tall and intelligent office buildings in the city centre.
Currently, the title of the tallest skyscraper in Warsaw belongs to Warsaw Trade Tower, however, it will soon drop one place down in the rank, as a new tallest office building – Warsaw Spire- is now under construction. The new tower will be located in a very attractive spot: in the area of Grzybowska, Towarowa and Łucka streets, close to the emerging second underground line and the Hilton Hotel. It will be 220 m tall and will be a part of the complex of buildings called Warsaw Spire, which will provide 100.000 sq. m of office space.
This article was published in Business MagazynPL - a bi-lingual monthly magazine aimed at SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs.