2016 a record sum of €620 million was invested in the Brabant economy by foreign companies, with the helping hand of the Brabant Development Agency (BOM). This has emerged from figures released by BOM today. The exceptional result (2015 saw investments of €118 million) was due to four greenfield projects – companies from abroad that buy land in Brabant to construct a completely new building, which naturally involves a great deal of money. Nationally, BOM was responsible for 40% of investments and 20% of new jobs.
“We’re very proud of this great achievement for Brabant, even if it’s probably an outlier that I don’t think will be beaten soon,” says Eelko Brinkhoff, Manager Foreign Investments at BOM. “After years of hard work, a decision was made to launch four extremely large projects in 2016, creating a somewhat distorted picture. After all, all that glitters is not gold. In view of the political shifts such as Brexit, the new US government, and the Dutch and EU tax developments, there are quite some challenges ahead.”
BOM provides support and other services to foreign companies when it comes to selecting a location, employment, and the laws and legislation. BOM lent a helping hand to 29 foreign companies last year to set up or expand in Brabant. Together these companies were responsible for 2,151 new jobs in 2016, an upswing of almost 400 over the previous year.
Three of the four greenfield projects were industrial in nature (Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, Can Pack, and Danone), while the fourth involved the construction of an e-commerce distribution centre for the logistics company XPO. The primary reason all these companies settled on Brabant was because of its unique location – between the major access ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg and with over 170 million consumers in a 500 km radius. Moreover, the interface with the industrial cluster already present in Brabant was another significant deciding point. Aside from those investment projects in which BOM was directly involved, Brabant also saw foreign investment from Rhenus Contract Logistics, Kawasaki Motors, Chugoku Marine Paints, and others too.
“Foreign investments are an important driver for the Brabant economy,” says Bert Pauli, Deputy Governor for the province. “Companies that set up shop here often work very closely with local suppliers, service providers, and knowledge institutes, which helps to create new commercial activity and jobs. This is all the more true when there are four multinational companies tying themselves to the region for an extended period, thanks to the new buildings they are constructing. And so I’m very pleased that in 2016 the province and its regional development agency (BOM) once again managed to convince many companies to come to Brabant, the logistical and industrial heart of Europe.”
In spite of the political uncertainties, BOM anticipates attracting even more companies in 2017. The agency will increase the focus on the top industries, the major nations (such as the US and China), and further improve national and regional cooperation. At the close of last year BOM and Brainport Eindhoven Region won six prestigious Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) Strategy Awards, with BOM’s approach taking first place as the most effective support structure in Europe.
“When it comes to bigger investments, we think that companies will for now adopt a non-committal stance,” says Brinkhoff. “But it remains important that we closely follow demand and offer the best possible services, so that it becomes easier to convince foreign companies that Brabant is where the smart money is. We are aware of the challenges, but we also still see enough possibilities,” he concludes. “We’re confident that we will be able to continue capitalizing on the opportunities for Brabant in the years to come, and we’re aiming to make that come true!”