Like many parts of Germany that relied upon heavy industry, Saarland faced enormous challenges at the turn of the millennium. Coal mining had been its economic base for more than 200 years, but the last mine closed in 2012. Five thousand jobs were lost and the region suffered an identity crisis.
Strong geographical advantage
Luckily for the region around the city of Saarbrücken, it had geographical advantages to fall back on: It borders directly on France and Luxembourg, while Belgium is only an hour and a half away by car. “Saarland is a central hub for companies that want to do business with France and western Europe,” says Thomas Schuck, managing director of the Saarland Economic Promotion Corporation. Several major freeways lead directly from Saarbrücken to France, and the region’s airport is well linked into Europe.
For the kitchen manufacturer Nobilia from northwestern Germany, this was reason alone to start building a production facility in Saarlouis (not far from Saarbrücken) in 2019. “In our search for a large site with good transport links in the immediate vicinity of France, Saarland was particularly suitable for us,” says managing director Lars Bopf. “For Nobilia, the French market is the second largest after Germany.” The kitchen manufacturer plans to build its plant on an area of 29ha, starting production in 2020, with plans for over 1,000 employees on the site.