Today, cities face global competition in their efforts to attract investment and new businesses. City marketing is thus an important task in urban business development. While in industrialised countries, structural changes in industry are often a major factor, in developing countries the focus is more on building competencies, capacities and structures for business development.
The primary goal is to attract new businesses. The 'dortmund project' in Germany, for instance, used the potential offered by available commercial sites to create sites for business start-ups and businesses moving to the area. It concentrated on modern sectors such as information technologies, micro-technology and e-logistics. Within just ten years, the consequences of the collapse of the steel industry in the area had been partly cushioned with the creation of about 70,000 new jobs. The most crucial factor in the work of the dortmund project that all political, economic and civil society forces have pulled together to help the city cope with structural change. Today Dortmund has become a leading centre of Europe's high-tech industries, and its integrated urban development concepts reflect modern lifestyles.
New investments and business start-ups often go hand in hand with innovations which can benefit the entire city and indeed the surrounding area. Jobs are created, 'bright minds' attracted and tax revenues rise. These can be used in turn to improve both the physical attractiveness of the location (e.g. infrastructure and local public transport) and the soft factors (e.g. education, culture, sport, local recreation opportunities and childcare).
In the international context, the German-Namibian partnership for inclusive economic growth concentrates on participatory planning approaches and public-private dialogue forums, along with the reform of the national enabling environment for local business development and capacity development for municipal staff. In almost 20 cities these activities have helped improve the economic situation.
Modern city marketing and urban development are integrated approaches. Factors affecting the attractiveness of a city and the related development goals and sector-specific priorities are jointly analysed by actors from politics, business and academia. Organising this cooperation is a key focus of urban initiatives to maximise the city's attractiveness as a centre for business and investment.
When it started work in August 2006, foodRegio Lübeck set out to expand this food centre by giving intensive support to existing companies and attracting new businesses. For example, the working groups on product development, production optimisation, logistics and human resources development give rise to value-adding cooperation projects between companies. These involve close cooperation with scientific research institutions such as the Lübeck University of Applied Sciences or the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Marine Biotechnology (EMB) – thereby ensuring outcomes-oriented bundling of practical, specialist and methodological competence.
A wide range of instruments have been developed in the field of city marketing, including cluster management to promote cooperation within a sector, value chain analyses to identify supplier deficits and develop regional economic activity, and local marketing campaigns to attract new investment.
Strategic city marketing policy brings together various fields of activity in local government, resulting, for instance, in city-run green growth initiatives. Often as part of these activities, specific urban infrastructure planning tasks are also identified, with a view to developing the local economy.
The analysis of cities and regions within their functional and spatial context is a relatively new approach. This often comes closer to the actual environment in which residents live than traditional planning frameworks. The concept of 'smart specialisation' involves identifying different functional areas of cities and regions depending on the issue being dealt with, and then developing a separate thematic action concept for each of these. The Region Berlin-Brandenburg, for instance, works with five smart specialisations: (1) energy technologies, (2) health, (3) optics, (4) ICT, the media and the creative economy, and (5) transport, mobility and logistics. Business, research and government organisations form initiatives in which cities and sub-regions network, share expertise and take joint strategic decisions. An approach that is not bound to any one technology and a conscious mix of sectors helps offset any negative trends within any one sector.