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This afternoon, I had the privilege of interviewing Volker Hoff, the minister of federal and European affairs for the German state of Hessen. We met in a deluxe, circular conference room adorned with a glittering chandelier and a balcony overlooking the grandeur of Hessen’s capital, Wiesbaden. Hoff and I were joined by Bernd Kistner, head of foreign trade for the Hessian Ministry for Economic Affairs, as well as Oliver Biel and Kristina Garcia, both of Hessen Agentur.
As the senior editor of Business Facilities, the opportunity to sit down for a high-profile discussion with some of Germany’s most influential people was a journalistic high point. Speaking with Hoff and company about issues such as the necessary expansion plans of Frankfurt airport to the challenge of finding the funding to invest in education—starting at the kindergarten level—highlighted a significant point for me. Even as the economic crisis grips the world’s banks and strikes fear into the hearts and wallets of billions of people, business still goes on. It, like time, doesn’t seem to stop. There are always decisions to be made, plans to be drawn, and opportunities to be seized. All of this happens like clockwork, regardless of fluctuating stocks, interest rate cuts, and missed mortgage payments. They say time is money, but business is both.
I’ve been traveling through Germany for ten days now and, while some companies were hesitant to sit down with me–fearing tough questions about global economic woes—I could not have asked for a better moment in time to meet face-to-face with elite businesses. In Bavaria’s iconic capital, Munich, I met with top-level executives from GE and Ingram Micro, to name a few, before heading to Hessen for talks with The Hartford Financial Group and Citibank, among others. Let me tell you how reassuring it is to have been met with both optimism and candor, open-mindedness and insight, from some of Germany’s newest and biggest economic additions.
Keep an eye out for future issues of Business Facilities where I plan to detail what I have learned from conversing with international businesspeople and European lawmakers over the last couple of weeks. For some, the reasons to enter the German market are too numerous to quantify, while the reasons for choosing specific cities, sometimes, have been easier than you could possibly imagine.