In this interview, the Counselor of Economy, Business and Employment, Patricia Franco, has presented the main developments in terms of attracting foreign investment to the region.
Question: What are the objectives to be achieved by the new project management platform presented on February 9 on the occasion of the Investment Incentives Council II?
Answer: With the creation of the Council for Attracting Investment in Castilla-La Mancha, we aimed to improve communication and interaction with the main public and private actors that help us make the region an attractive place for investment. This new platform fulfills this objective, as it will be a direct channel of communication between the Autonomous Executive through Invest in CLM and the municipalities, where investment projects that must seek certain location conditions will be registered.. This will help us process the information much faster and take advantage of the digitalization of the municipalities.
It is an initiative that replicates the platform we have in collaboration with Invest in Spain, a national reference point for attracting international projects. They transmit to the Autonomous Communities the requirements that new investment projects present. Our job is to respond to that request with the options we have in terms of land, incentives, talent or infrastructure to ensure that this project lands in our region. We have used this process at the regional level as well. Although we have identified most of the available land supply in the region, mainly thanks to the industrial land map, it is very interesting to get a real-time update of our supply. For this reason, now when there is a new investment project, we present it on the platform to find out what each municipality can offer.
“In just two weeks, more than 100 municipalities are already using this new project management tool.
The goal is to consolidate a solid database of available land and warehouses, both public and private, that can be offered to investors who are considering Castilla-La Mancha.
Personally, I hope that the initiative will serve to democratize the active participation of city councils in initiatives and investment proposals that either we gather ourselves or that reach us through other intermediaries . In just two weeks, more than 100 municipalities are already using the platform, and we hope that number will continue to grow in the coming weeks.
Q: How are you trying to attract foreign investment to the CLM, both through IPEX and the ministry?
A: The work of attracting foreign investment at the management level in the Autonomous Community is led by IPEX, which also supports companies from Castilla-La Mancha in their internationalization process. In this sense, we highlight that the figures have given us an absolute record with more than 9 billion euros in exports in 2021. The initiatives we are carrying out to improve the attraction of foreign investment consist mainly of increasing our promotion and active participation in the main international forums and events. We must value the advantages of the region that the companies that have had the experience of coming to us have come to appreciate. From the moment they decide to invest in Spain, Europe or the CLM, until the realization of the project, they have the support of the regional government and we want to tell their experience. We have great investment projects that are perfectly housed in our territory. Therefore, the best publicity is to take advantage of the experience of those who have decided to invest here.
Patricia Franco, Regional Minister of Economy, Business and Employment of Castilla-La Mancha, at the signing ceremony of the protocol for training in digital commerce in the footwear sector in Toledo.
We must work with all economic agents responsible for attracting investment to the country. Not only with Invest in Spain, but also with the Chambers of Commerce and specialized consultancies that work together in a network and making it easier for us to continue sending a message of stability. There is one factor that we must continue to highlight as a region, and that is that today CLM is the leading region in the country when it comes to trust of our businesses. This is not a coincidence; it is constant work that we have been carrying out for almost 7 years, passing laws that simplify administrative procedures for businesses and strengthen their support. We still have a lot of work ahead of us and the numbers will follow us.
Q: What are CLM’s expectations for the MIPIM fair?
A: MIPIM is a great forum and showcase, not only for the real estate sector, but also for the destinations we want to promote as attractive for investment. We hope that the agenda we carry, both institutional and technical and professional, can generate new contacts and agreements that can impact the growth of our ability to attract foreign investment. It is one of the places where we should be. We will continue to seek out other trade shows and events where we can demonstrate, through successful experiences, what the incentives are to invest in CLM.
Q: Companies that are already here and have had very good experiences investing in CLM are an important factor. The case of Puy du Fou is one of the examples that attracts investment. What other examples could be a success story for investment in the CLM?
A: Since we joined the government, we have managed to attract 127 projects for foreign investment, both newly established and reinvested. I like to talk about both terms because often we focus on new investments, but for me reinvestments have a lot of value. There is some volatility in decision making in companies, both multinational and international, that can decide whether to continue investing in our country or region or invest abroad at much more competitive prices. Therefore, I place great emphasis on reinvestment, especially in some projects that were on the verge of going out of business and were later able to consolidate themselves as the most efficient of the group at the European and international levels. Moreover, most of the 127 projects are concentrated in this second legislature. In the first one we had recorded more than 56 investment projects and in this second one more than 70, which means that we are consolidating the work we have started.
“I really appreciate reinvestment, especially in some projects that were in danger of disappearing and then managed to consolidate,” says Patricia Franco.
Puy du Fou is clearly an example of success. The president of CLM Emiliano García-Page and I work hand in hand here. We were involved in the decision-making process from the beginning, when they were considering investing in Austria, Italy or Spain. In our country, the capital was proposed and finally we got the project to be implemented in Toledo. It is one of those projects that is incredible not only for its numbers, investment and job creation, but also for the change it brings in terms of changing the tourism model. Toledo is a city that has lived on tourism from Madrid, that has not stayed overnight, and Puy Du Fou has managed to get people to stay overnight. This is a change in the tourism model that makes it much more attractive to combine the heritage of Toledo with a much more playful offer that has to do with a show about the history of our country.
Representation of the exhibition “The Dream of Toledo”, in Puy du Fou. Source: parquetematico.net
I can also highlight one of the flagship projects recently decided to be implemented in CLM, in Guadalajara: the project of Cummins, which together with Iberdrola will build the first electrolyser factory in the country, strengthening the position of our region as an international reference in the field of green hydrogen.
Another success story is Amazon, which has decided to build its second large logistics center in Illescas. There are other smaller and more industrial projects that show that we are a region that welcomes industry. This is not always the case; there are some Autonomous Communities that are much more committed to service projects. We believe that industry is a clear commitment to stable and quality jobs, and we are opening our arms to this sector. We also have examples like the project of a Slovenian company, Life for Tires, which will recycle tires and generate new by-products, strengthening the circular economy and helping to protect our environment.
We are a great region and we have great capabilities in all areas. In this regard, we must emphasize the qualification and training of the workforce needed for these projects and that we are committed to continuing education to provide companies with the talent they need at any given time.
Q: Why invest in CLM?
A: When we want to position ourselves as the best investment destination to compete not only with other Autonomous Communities but also with other countries in Europe, we focus on very concrete things and of course we have to say: we have a lot of industrial land available to investing companies; we are located in the center of Spain and have good air, highway and rail connections; we have a very competitive University that provides talent to all companies that want to come to our Autonomous Community; we have many advanced technology centers in some cutting-edge developments such as the green hydrogen or photovoltaic industry, etc. In addition to all of that, we need to focus on what other different values CLM offers to make them want to invest here and not elsewhere. And in this sense, we must appreciate that CLM is a region that is highly committed to sustainable development and is making steady progress towards achieving the 17 SDGs, as shown in the recent “Progress Report” presented by the regional government. Therefore, we will be pleased to attract new companies to the region that share the same values.
“Instead of thinking about what is tangible, we need to focus on what different values the CLM offers so that they will want to invest here and not elsewhere.
We are a friendly territory, with a government that from the president, to me, or the business support units, and the entire management team, to IPEX, is there for investors when they need us. It’s important to understand that it all adds up and that big projects matter. This is where another intangible of CLM comes into play: we can work the entire value chain to integrate with any project that wants to come to our region. We adapt to the needs and requirements of the investor and make sure that the value chain is integrated into the process. We are sustainable, friendly, a good place to live and, above all, we can guarantee a close relationship with companies in the sector that facilitate integration between large and small companies that seek that social responsibility that large multinationals and international companies are increasingly looking for and seeking.