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Friday, May 27, 2022

Berlin can learn from the Grünheide case

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These days, when the news is dominated by a brutal war of conquest in Eastern Europe, hardly anyone is in the mood for a happy opening ceremony. Can we be happy with the start of production in a large car factory in Brandenburg when Russian shells and rockets are killing innocent people and destroying Ukrainian cities at the same time in kyiv, Mariupol and Odessa?

The simultaneity of events will also be difficult to bear for those people who, together with Elon Musk, are kicking off the production of Tesla’s electric cars in Grünheide, near Berlin, on Tuesday.

[Lesen Sie auch: Europas größte E-Autofabrik wird eröffnet: „Delivery Day“ bei Tesla – ein US-Konzern mischt Deutschland auf (T+)]

Neither Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz nor Brandenburg Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke will be able to suppress the strange and stressful tension between the two events even for a moment: here the undisguised joy at the almost unbelievably fast implementation of an investment worth thousands of millions by German standards, beyond Russian ruler Vladimir Putin’s brutal destruction of the illusion of peaceful European coexistence.

This factory is more than a modern car production facility. Elon Musk came to the home country of automotive development with his investment decision. It is not clear whether he even knew when he said yes to the Grünheide location that it was in Brandenburg and not in Berlin.

What is certain is that the Potsdam state government made a very clever and very secret effort to make this future investment and very cleverly advertised it with the geographical term for the region around the capital, Berlin. All the actual arguments were convincing enough. There was a large construction site, excellent transport links to the motorway network and a new airport in the immediate vicinity.

From Grünheide to Magdeburg

Less than 30 months passed between the first declaration of intent to build in Grünheide in November 2019 and the opening day. And that in Germany, the country of complicated official channels and slow planning decisions!

Confident Brandenburgers now point out that everything went well. That politics never interfered in the administration, but that everyone was probably united by the will to make quick and forceful decisions. Anyone who now remembers the laborious decision-making processes involved in the construction of the BER airport: It was always confirmed that the responsible Brandenburg district office acted correctly. The carelessness had rather Berlin origins.

In East Germany, obviously, there is a willingness to compensate for the development deficits that arose from the years of division, but also from the industrial decline after the fall of the Wall.

[Wenn Sie alle aktuellen Nachrichten live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere App, die Sie hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen können.]

The fast decision-making processes, which had a positive impact on the companies’ plans for branches in Brandenburg, also played a role in Magdeburg. Here they accelerated the decision of the American chipmaker Intel to build two semiconductor factories near the capital of Saxony-Anhalt. 17 billion euros are invested, 3,000 jobs are created.

Proximity to universities was important in the Magdeburg vote. Good transport links were added, as well as the hope that the authorities would make decisions quickly, and then the prospect of European and national subsidies for future technologies.

In Grünheide, as in Magdeburg, it was and still is a business decision to invest here and there. The state can create the conditions, it cannot impose anything. The environment has to be right, and that is largely influenced by politics. He probably did a lot of things right at Grünheide and gave the same impression at Magdeburg. Berlin can learn from this.

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