Marzahn-Hellersdorf (Berlin), Study Visit, 26 - 28 June 2006


An international review panel led by the OECD LEED Programme visited the Berlin city quarter of Marzahn-Hellersdorf from 26 to 28 June 2006. A regional workshop has been held in Berlin 28 September 2006 to discuss with local stakeholders and representatives of national ministries and representatives of the two East German Länder ministries preliminary findings and draft policy recommendations and to make case study presentations of international learning models/best practices.


This OECD review of entrepreneurship development in Marzahn-Hellersdorf focuses on how to increase the start-up rate of new firms, support the growth of existing small and medium-sized enterprises, and attract small and medium sized inward investors to this particular district of Berlin. As a part of the greater Berlin agglomeration, Marzahn-Hellersdorf cannot be considered a self-contained local economy. The borough’s borders are more administrative than functional, and its local government authority lacks the policy levers to make a major impact with only its own resources. A key message is, therefore, that the economic and policy linkages between the Marzahn-Hellersdorf borough and the wider city and Land within which it sits must be recognised in any assessment of policy needs and opportunities. The wider Berlin economic strategy makes an important start in this direction, for example by identifying two economic sectors (health industry suppliers and the automotive industry) in which Marzahn-Hellersdorf is seen to have comparative advantages and which will be a particular focus of policy efforts.


For these sectors, and for small business development more generally, Marzahn-Hellersdorf offers some valuable assets, including an abundant supply of available industrial sites and a mix of business facilities with attractive rental rates and adequate infrastructure, a large pool of young adult workers with academic qualifications and job skills, and a local business community that comprises companies of different sizes and specialisations. However, Marzahn-Hellersdorf must also address the problem of occupying a peripheral location within a depressed city economy and the need to compete with other city districts for available investment. This suggests that much of the business development required will have to be generated domestically and address specialised markets in the broader city, national and international economy. Policy is likely to have the greatest impact on promoting small business development in the district, by taking a strategic approach to entrepreneurship policy that emphasises building an entrepreneurial culture in the general population, creating new start ups and growing existing enterprises focused on promising markets.


Both the discussion of strengths and weaknesses, and the recommendations are not meant to draw-up an exhaustive picture of the local scenario, leading to immediate and concrete policy actions. The aim is, rather, to stimulate and catalyse a process, whereby regions, cities and districts in East Germany can stand back and reflect on their overall options, needs and priorities, by facilitating an exchange of information on innovations and good practices from a range of OECD Member countries. The key messages resulting from the local case study area, in terms of suggested policy actions and initiatives, are summarised in an Action Plan.




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