As a service company as well as an agency for innovation and funding advice, WFMG is the link between business, administration and politics in Mönchengladbach. Shareholders of WFMG are EWMG-Entwicklungsgesellschaft der Stadt Mönchengladbach mbH (51%) and Mönchengladbach-based companies including the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Kreishandwerkerschaft (49%). The primary objective is to create jobs by attracting companies – for this purpose, WFMG sells municipal land and brokers suitable commercial properties – and to secure existing jobs. In addition, WFMG actively supports local companies and offers them a wide range of networks for industry-specific and cross-industry exchange. In the recent past, the work of WFMG has become increasingly diversified – as a result of space becoming scarcer, but also in response to megatrends such as digitization and sustainability.
In 2021, it therefore reformulated and refocused its corporate objectives. These now comprise the following six task areas:
1. Corporate services
We are the navigator for our customers through funding opportunities, digitization and innovation programs, property and location issues, matchmaking, and networking options.
Companies that want to secure or create jobs in Mönchengladbach, preferably in the knowledge economy, face a variety of challenges. We are the only player with a complete overview of the market and have the comprehensive know-how regarding location-specific funding opportunities, land availability, digitization and innovation measures, matchmaking as well as networking options.
Thanks to our experience and in-depth knowledge of the business location, we take on a navigator function through all of a company’s circumstances; we identify the customer’s individual needs and either develop custom-fit solutions for their challenges ourselves or refer them to the appropriate agency. Last but not least, we keep an eye on the real estate location as a whole: We have an overview of the market, know locations, brokers, multipliers and responsible contacts and support companies that are committed to creating or securing jobs in their search for expansion, new construction, relocation or existing space.
In doing so, our role is not merely that of a reactive consulting agency: Rather, we are developing into a driving force in the business location by demonstrating and marketing our consulting expertise with outreach, educational and interest-generating formats. In this way, we go far beyond the tasks of municipal services of general interest: We actively help to shape the business location, establish promising connections and help to ensure that jobs are created in promising fields.
2. Business networks, trend scouting and collaboration
We act as ambassadors, experts, trend scouts and a driving force for business networks for Mönchengladbach as a business location on a regional, national and international level.
Locations are in competition with each other – regionally, nationally, even internationally if located in a border region. We act as ambassadors for the Mönchengladbach economy and represent and market the location wherever it is necessary to establish or maintain business relationships and networks for local companies, to enter into joint projects and cooperations, and to initiate and supervise lighthouse projects that have an impact beyond the city and are indispensable for its further development.
The overriding goal of this city marketing is to raise Mönchengladbach’s profile as an international, cosmopolitan and modern business location. We identify events and platforms that require our active involvement on a needs and occasion basis, as they either enable profitable lead generation, fuel the marketing of our properties or services, or are beneficial to the projects to be developed.
Our role is not limited to mere representation; rather, we act as experts for the location and the topics we represent and, in return, carry external know-how about innovations, relevant new developments and megatrends back to the business location – with topics ranging from sustainable and healthy building all the way to aviation. In doing so, we act along our location strengths, predominantly in a regional or euregional context. In this context, the Rhineland Region of the Future (ZRR) and the associated funding perspectives play a decisive role, since they will shape urban development for decades to come. Our role as ambassador for the business location must be embedded in a positioning for the city as a whole.
3. Managing the skilled workers of tomorrow
We are committed to acting as a competent interface between the local economy and the skilled workers of tomorrow.
The looming shortage of skilled workers and deficits in digitization are increasingly becoming a problem for companies that want to position themselves for the future. With our skilled workers team – MGconnect, the foundation of the same name, the Bo-Fit, EFRE-Future Boards, MINT in MIND funding programs and the zdi Center Mönchengladbach initiative – we are committed to acting as a competent interface between the local economy and the skilled workers of tomorrow.
The focus is primarily on small and medium-sized enterprises. Always in cooperation with partners such as the Employment Agency, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the School and Sports Department of the City of Mönchengladbach and the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, we optimize the relationship between students, teachers and the local economy. We make young people fit for working life at an early stage and enable them to make a targeted choice between studying and training. We match students who are ready for training with companies willing to train them and get them excited – always not from the ivory tower, but in practice – especially about STEM professions and digitization. To this end, we develop innovative formats and courses and provide digital platforms we have developed ourselves. We give students with a desire to study an orientation in the multitude of study offers and show them career prospects in Mönchengladbach after having finished studying.
We and our partners, including institutions, educational institutions and small and medium-sized businesses, have been successfully working on the transition from school to work in Mönchengladbach for more than 20 years, thus helping to ensure that companies at the site will continue to be supplied with sufficient young talent in terms of both quality and quantity.
4. Digital infrastructure development
We coordinate the expansion of pure fiber-optic technology in Mönchengladbach and implement digital infrastructure and transformation projects for the benefit of companies and citizens.
Modern telecommunications infrastructure is an important location factor for companies and citizens. Our goal is to promote pure fiber-optic technology in Mönchengladbach in line with the city’s gigabit strategy. We are consistently implementing this: Almost all contiguous business parks have now been equipped with the latest fiber-optic technology. Previously underserved districts have been upgraded accordingly, and in new residential areas, too, this is proving to be the only viable solution for the future.
For entrepreneurs, citizens and developers alike, we bundle information, prepare it independently of providers and guide them through the complex picture of supply situations. Via a specially initiated platform, we provide an overview of the current supply situation and enable demand reports, because sufficient demand is still the decisive factor for expansion projects.
Through the person of the municipal gigabit coordinator, we are equally the point of contact for telecommunications companies, citizens, project developers, entrepreneurs and tradespeople, as well as municipal institutions in matters of gigabit expansion. But we also implement digital infrastructure projects for the benefit of companies and citizens in other areas of the digital infrastructure, such as the city’s own WLAN “MG-WiFi” and mobile communications, and contribute our expertise to the city-wide development toward a “smart city”.
5. Inner city and retail development
With our expertise, we play a pioneering role in the sustainable development of downtown locations and stationary retail.
Not least as a result of the Corona pandemic, inner cities and the retail trade are undergoing profound change. Mönchengladbach is by no means alone in facing the phenomenon of an irreversible downward spiral of city centers as a result of increasing vacancies, growing online trade and a lack of development prospects. However, the situation on the ground is further complicated by the phenomenon of two centers (Gladbach and Rheydt) that has been experienced for decades.
For this reason, we are deliberately devoting ourselves separately to the complex of tasks of inner city development and retail. We see it as a playground for innovative ideas, temporary uses, hybrid concepts that combine the advantages of stationary and digital retail, smart logistics and traffic approaches, and new ways of developing sustainable neighborhoods. This is always linked to the goal of enhancing the quality of life in city centers.
Consequently, over the past decade we have established a nationally recognized pioneering and expert role in this area, which is reflected in a number of projects, some of which are scientifically supported. In cooperation with other city stakeholders, we are working hard to make this expertise available to Mönchengladbach’s city center locations and to actively help ensure that citizens and entrepreneurs not only enjoy living in Mönchengladbach, but also recognize the added value for themselves and their city in actively visiting the city centers as places for leisure, communication and shopping.
6. Start-up support
We offer all-round support for people interested in founding a company as well as start-ups with innovative, promising and preferably digital business models.
Start-ups are eminently important for the dynamics of a modern business location. We serve as the first point of contact for founders and startups with innovative, preferably digital business models in Mönchengladbach – whether in the search for premises or funding opportunities, with regard to networking with other local stakeholders, especially SMEs, or in terms of visibility and marketing.
Together with network partners such as the digitization and start-up initiative nextMG e.V., the necessary local and regional ecosystem is built and maintained. We make our expertise and commitment available as a juror for the NRW Startup Scholarship, as well as a leading force in the annual “Lower Rhine Startup Week,” which we coordinate as a regional center, or in the development of innovative support services for startup teams such as the Startup.Starterkit.MG. Furthermore, we are, among other things, a member of the Lower Rhine Startup Region, cooperate closely with the regional Starter Center and have been a partner of the federal Startup Platform since the beginning of 2020.
In doing so, we guarantee personal, individual support for promising startup projects, regardless of the growth of the local startup scene, which is not only qualitative but also quantitative. With the development of a startup and innovation center, we want to round out the portfolio and contribute with our work to sustainably and permanently anchor the city on the startup map.