Increasing interest in Lille
Although Lille is not a capital, it’s one of the few metropolises in Europe with international headquarters based locally. A current business movement is to be global while remaining local. Lille is good example of ‘glocal’ because it is very easy to be international from Lille.
Mr Mariani points out two important trends he has identified in his role as business developer in Lille. First, is a strong decrease of business and employment creation originating from French companies in relation to foreign companies. “That is something is new for us. Before it was 50/50, now it is a lot lower. Also, we see that we have a strong presence of projects originating from Europe and North America, not only the US, but Canada too. Lille has strong assets to welcome foreign investors.” Mr. Mariani also adds that in the past two years he has seen increased competition with Paris, but a larger percentage of companies that originally targeted Paris in 2012 decided to locate in Lille.
As part of the global market, Lille is seeing growth in sectors such as food and technology. One particularity of the region, however is e-commerce, which is endemic to a region with such a rich history in trade and commerce. “On average, we have noticed that regarding all the cities in Europe the e-commerce sector in Lille is growing more rapidly than in other cities internally. Many European companies are locating their e-commerces office in Lille in order to grow.”
But history is not the only explanation for the boom in e-commerce. There is a population of young entrepreneurs who are creating new services and technology for commerce. Home to three of the top 100 business schools in the world – according to a recent survey in the Financial Times- as well the highest concentration of engineering schools in France, the city abounds in business-savvy and innovative young talent. And talent is a top attraction for companies looking to grow their business.