Why Zug, Switzerland? Karl Kobelt on Location Benefits and City Attractiveness

What makes the city of Zug an ideal destination for investors, skilled workers and visitors? 

Karl Kobelt, Mayor of the city of Zug in Switzerland, in this interview highlights the citizen-centric and business-friendly environment of Zug. He introduces us to the city’s recent sustainability initiatives and what makes it an ideal location for entrepreneurs and skilled workers: efficient bureaucracy and the region’s pleasant year-round climate add to the joy of living in this picturesque lakeside town.

With a focus on finance, pharmaceuticals and blockchain, Zug is at the forefront of science and technology innovation in Switzerland. Hosting residents of many nationalities, Zug’s close proximity to economic hubs like Zurich and Lucerne further adds to the economic opportunities available in the city.

Our interview with Karl Kobelt is part of our series of paid (and thus open access) features aimed at introducing you to high-potential business locations in Switzerland – and to the person in charge of foreign investment attraction and economic development promotion. If you’d like us to introduce your city or region, please contact us.

Karl, the city of Zug is well known as a destination, benefiting from its relative proximity to the Zurich region and location next to a beautiful lake. To your mind – what makes Zug attractive as a location not just to visit, but also to invest and work?

The City of Zug is one of the most popular areas to live and to do business – this is borne out by numerous independent ratings and studies. The unique “Spirit of Zug” is immediately noticeable. Formalities and bureaucracy are kept to a minimum: the Zug authorities have an excellent reputation when it comes to dealing with matters quickly and efficiently.

The economic success of Zug is based on a long-term development strategy. The City and the Canton of Zug offer the best overall package. The outstanding locational conditions are applicable to everyone. Their core elements are made up of a unique mix of small and large, local and international firms; a closely-knit network of service providers, suppliers and private institutions; investment in training, sport and culture; attractive taxes for legal entities and individuals; the availability of an efficient infrastructure and a fascinating living space.

As the Mayor of Zug – in your view, what does “Brand Zug” stand for today?

Our brand stands for a very high standard of living. We are connected with the City of Zurich and its airport in the neighbourhood. That offers the possibility for networking and doing business, supported by highly qualified people and nearby universities with an excellent international reputation (e.g. ETH and the University of Zurich). And not to forget, Zug offers space for innovative people. An excellent example is the Bitcoin story.

Besides the above-mentioned advantages, Zug stands for very low taxes. But that’s only one reason why entrepreneurs and investors find our city so attractive.

Which would you consider the main challenges for Zug as a location?

Probably, like everywhere in attractive areas: the housing market is a challenge in the City. But newcomers will find what they are looking for in the surroundings, which are very well connected via the public transport system.

Which are some of the most recent developments in the Zug city region, which make it stand out from competing cities or business areas in Europe?

The City of Zug recently completed its “Circulago” sustainability project. This project is an innovative water pipe and energy network with which we can measure, adjust and exchange the differences between the water temperature of the lake and the room temperature in the buildings. We realised this project together with a private company in a Public-Private Partnership.

And, of course, there’s the trendy sustainable ice hockey stadium for professional sports, leisure and pleasure activities.

We are very interested in smart city solutions, especially where they can support our efficient commuter train infrastructure systems.

Imagine we could jump to the year 2030. How do you envision the city to be? What would investors and potential new residents find?

By 2030, Zug will be a smart city. Actually, we have already started numerous smart city projects, such as:

  • efficient, citizen-oriented public services
  • making society fit for the digital age
  • sustainable mobility
  • competitive and innovative business location

Apart from the difficulties which we are experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic, in terms of being able to attract talent and investors: has the current situation also benefited your city in some ways – for example in that it forced innovative solutions, or produced new (digital..) business opportunities?

Yes, of course. Last year, the City of Zug started – as one of the first communities in Switzerland – its digital participation process. On this platform, citizens are empowered to discuss and vote through digital platforms.

Securing stakeholder buy-in is often a challenge when promoting a city to potential investors and talent. How do you approach this in Zug?

In Switzerland, we support an open culture of discussion. This is how we also do it in Zug.  We are trying to understand the concerns of the citizens and business leaders. We take up these concerns and try to solve them or to lead them to a solution.

We recently published a white paper on the climate emergency and its implications for place branding / Standortförderung. In it, leading place brand specialists to highlight the urgent need for place branders to account for climate mitigation and resilience in economic development and place positioning strategies. To your mind, how important is a location’s climate resilience nowadays, for its ability to attract investors and talent?

This topic is very important. In Switzerland, and especially in Zug, the climatic conditions are comparatively very good. We have enough water and the climate is pleasant. And yet, we at the city council have set ourselves the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) as a goal for the coming years and legislative periods.

Which other cities around the world do you consider great examples in terms of their approach to promoting or positioning their location?

There are many other outstanding examples of interesting and beautiful cities. Each of them is unique, and we can learn from the best. Here in Zug, we are trying to keep our edge in taxes and quality of life.

Thank you, Karl.

Connect with Karl Kobelt on LinkedIn.

Our interview with Karl Kobelt, of Zug is part of our series of (paid) features introducing cities and regions as potential places for talent and investors to consider as a location to live and invest in. If you’d like us to introduce your business location to our global audience, please get in touch here.

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