Canton Grisons: Switzerland within Switzerland
Canton Grisons explains what makes the Swiss region a magnet for international investors, and, in a case study, Hamilton Bonaduz CEO Andreas Wieland describes how his business has benefitted from the location.
Grisons, Switzerland's only trilingual canton, is economically, culturally and politically diverse. The Romansh language and culture is an important part of the character of the canton, which also boasts beautiful countryside and tourist attractions. In the middle of the 19th century, author and politician Heinrich Zschokke remarked that Grisons was "Switzerland within Switzerland". In terms of surface area, Grisons is the largest canton, with about 193,400 inhabitants. The capital, Chur - the oldest city in Switzerland has a population of around 37,000.
Purity of nature
In addition to cultural and linguistic diversity, Grisons offers the purity of nature: 615 lakes, more than 900 mountains and 150 valleys. The picturesque landscape and sunny climate contribute to the high quality of life for locals and visitors. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, the farmers of Grisons also cultivate one of the best wines in Switzerland.
An attractive location for business
The majority of the population in Grisons is employed in the services sector. A moderate tax burden, optimally trained professional staff, high labour productivity and a fine-meshed infrastructure offer locational advantages not only to internationally operating firms, but also to small and medium-sized enterprises.
This business-friendly support structure has helped Grisons attract a number of large multinational corporations over recent years. Low-interest loans are made available to new businesses, industrial space is easily available and financial guidance is offered to any start-up enterprise that requires it.
As the canton looks to attract more export-oriented global companies, its public infrastructure will prove increasingly important. The universities of St Gallen and Zürich, as well as numerous other universities of applied sciences in the region, are producing a highly skilled workforce for the benefit of future industry - an achievement that's been noted by the 2009 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, which voted Grisons third in Switzerland for its educational provision.
WEF annual meeting 2013
The 43rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) took place in Davos during 23-27 January 2013. Grisons as the host canton and Davos as the congress venue provided the best possible environment for discussions at both the WEF annual meeting and the open forum.
Davos again proved to be a place of dialogue during the annual meeting. While participants held talks and discussions, various groups were able to express their critical views at demonstrations - all of which were peaceful. The authorities of Grisons were very pleased with this outcome.
A leader for leisure
Tourism is another pillar of Grisons' economy: the revenues from this industry provide about half of the jobs and incomes of the canton's population. Every year, approximately 12 million visitors spend the night in its 170,000 beds. With world-famous resorts Davos and St Moritz, and many other large or small resorts with their own personal charm, Grisons is currently a leader for leisure in the international market.
Case study: Hamilton
US company Hamilton is a global leader in laboratory automation, sensor and medical technology. Since 1966, the firm has run product development and manufacturing operations in Bonaduz, Grisons, where a third of the 800 employees are university graduates.
Hamilton is one of the most expanding companies in Grisons, hiring more than 150 employees over the last three years. FDE asks the company's Bonaduz CEO Andreas Wieland what makes it such an attractive location for business.
What are the main advantages for business of the location Grisons?
Andreas Wieland: The advantages are many, starting with moderate tax rates (in 2010, 8.5-16.8% of net profit before taxes); attractive land prices; and highly qualified, well educated and loyal employees.
Grisons offers an excellent environment for wholesale distribution, mechanical engineering and tool construction, and mechatronics and automation, with global players from the fields of chemistry and plastics, life sciences, information and communication technology, as well as electronics and sensorics all based in the canton. Several high-level research institutes, such as the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research, and the AO Research Institute, are also located in the area, along with CSEM (the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology), while the globally prestigious World Economic Forum annual meeting takes place in Davos.
Hamilton is only one in a long list of international investors, which also includes Baxter, CEDES, EMS-CHEMIE, Georg Fischer, HOPPE, TRUMPF, WITTENSTEIN and Würth International.
What draws highly skilled professionals to Grisons?
A great plus for Hamilton's recruiting is that highly qualified staff can work where others enjoy their holidays. Thanks to the high quality of education at the local universities and research institutes, which are strong in basic research, this region is ideal for innovation-oriented technology companies.
How accessible is Grisons?
The north-south axis Stuttgart-Munich-Milan passes through Grisons, linking Northern and Southern Europe. The international airports in Zürich and Milan can be reached within one and two hours respectively.
What about the political climate?
The unbureaucratic and business-friendly political climate of the canton supports industrial development. Also, Grisons' cantonal offices are a small administrative unit and offer personal contact with the relevant officials, thus ensuring that economical solutions can be found quickly every time.
What has been Hamilton's business performance during the last few years?
Very good, with the expansion of Bonaduz, the opening of other locations and the launch of new products and processes. We now have 800 employees in Bonaduz, of 1,500 Hamilton employees worldwide.
And looking to the future?
Bonaduz will continue to focus on technological development, strengthen resources and try to expand further, while staying innovative, flexible and successful.