Lille Metropole’s Development Agency, APIM is another of Lille’s dynamic organisations. Created in 1995 by the Chamber of Commerce & Industry, APIM promotes inward investment and economic development projects in the region. Its new (since November 2011) CEO is Dominique Mariani who brings to the job a wealth of international business experience, as well as impressive academic qualifications from the University of Strathclyde, INSEAD, Oxford University, HEC…..Synergies talked to him about Lille and his exciting new role as Lille’s international business ambassador.
No, I’m not from the North
I come from the West and the South, half from Brittany and half from Corsica! I came to live in Lille in November last year when I took over at APIM. Of course, I knew Lille well from doing business here and had already worked with a lot of people from the region.
First impressions, the hospitality…
People are so friendly and welcoming, even those in the street you don’t know. You integrate very quickly. Local people are proud of their city and it always remains close to their hearts, even when they are working a long way from home. And there are also many I know who have come here for a year and have stayed for 20!
APIM, the international image
In the short and medium term, our most important challenge is to develop the brand image of Lille. The average international manager simply doesn’t know the city and what it has to offer. If you took a sample of 5000 company directors from across the world, 80% would not know anything about Lille, except perhaps the stereotype of the textile industry. The ones who do know and appreciate the real Lille are the ones who have come here personally. This image issue is one we need to tackle head-on.
APIM, creating new links
We must create new links with top international managers and make them come to see Lille for themselves. To do that we have to organise special business events to attract them and get them into contact with our local business communities.
APIM, promoting Lille’s entrepreneurial spirit
The image of Lille as an industrial centre for textiles and cars is no longer a valid one. We are a city of entrepreneurs and innovators. Just look around, we have so many family-owned companies which have developed on the international stage, and yet have stayed here and still have their headquarters in the region. That is very rare indeed in today’s business world. Our message must be: come to Lille, set up your business and develop your own international group from here….like so many others.
Congresses & Events in Lille
It goes without saying that all the many meetings and events held here contribute enormously to developing awareness and a stronger international image of our city.
Like all the French, I love my food. In Lille there are many places I just like to be for a simple meal or even a pizza…..the small restaurants around the Chamber of Commerce for example. A personal favourite is ‘Au Trou Gascon’ near Place Sébastopol, a small restaurant from the south-west where the pork chops are excellent. For gourmets I recommend the well known Le Sébastopol and the gastronomic restaurant in the Hotel Barrière. And for cheese, there’s nothing better than Fromager Olivier in Vieux Lille…..
More about APIM