Switzerland has surpassed the U.S. as the top-ranked country in the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness survey. Mario Brossi, who has dual Swiss and American citizenship, puts this achievement in perspective.
BF: What factors enabled Switzerland to surpass the U.S. in the WEF survey?
MB: Although Switzerland is proud to be at the top of the table this year, we view this more as a marathon than a sprint, with the U.S. coming in a very close second. Being in the top tier in the long run is what is key, with Switzerland’s long-term economic stability, excellent capacity for innovation and sophisticated business culture making the fundamental difference this year.
BF: Switzerland has attracted more than 40 new projects from the U.S. in the past year. Can you give us some examples of the investment criteria that have influenced these location decisions?
MB: Parker Hannifin cited a stable and business-friendly government, outstanding infrastructure and a well-educated, highly productive and multilingual workforce combine to provide an excellent environment for our international operations, Ecolab selected the Zurich area because of its consistent ranking as one of the best business locations in the world, as well as the outstanding quality of life [which] will help us attract and retain world-class and diverse talent.” Worldwide HR firm Kelly Services said Switzerland is an ideal base from which to service clients across its EMEA operations, with an excellent transportation infrastructure.
BF: Has the Swiss government offered any new incentives and/or tax breaks to lure overseas businesses?
MB: Switzerland through its federal and cantonal governments and public/private partnerships has been putting more emphasis on the marketing side, actively promoting the country as a leading business, conference and investment location. For example, the federal promotion effort has now been expanded and merged with the trade promotion activities on behalf of all Swiss FDI-focused enterprises overseas under the name Switzerland Trade and Investment Promotion. However, cantons in Switzerland are reducing their level of corporate and individual taxation
BF: Was the top competitiveness ranking the result of a coordinated strategy?
MB: Sustainability, innovation, education, research and investment are among the many criteria that our country seeks to improve year and year out. The fact that these jelled this year and that others were more directly affected by market weakness and instability were probably more responsible for the overall outcome than the idea that Switzerland had a mega, overarching strategy to achieve this result.
BF: Do you believe Switzerland will maintain its top ranking in coming years?
MB: Predicting the future is always fraught with danger and I think we will just have to see what next year brings. That said I can assure you that Switzerland will not be complacent and will certainly to whatever it takes to remain internationally competitive and a leading foreign investment destination of choice.
As sustainable development has quickly moved from an admirable goal to a requirement, everyone needs to get up to speed on the terminology of green building.
Just in time comes a high-quality online dictionary of Green Industry Definitions, compiled by the Glenview, IL-based Metal Construction Association (MCA).
For example, do you know what a bioswale is? It’s a landscape element designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water. It also is known as “rain gardens” or constructed wetlands.
How about BEES? No, this is not a species of pollinating insects outfitted in Sting’s favorite sweater. BEES stands for Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability. This software tool, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, measures the environmental performance of building products by using the life-cycle assessment approach.
Here’s one of our personal favorites: cool roofing. No, this isn’t a set of shingles that likes to chill with some jazz CDs. It’s a roof that reflects and emits a large percentage of the sun’s energy heat back to the sky instead of transferring it to the structure below.
MCA’s compilation of Green Industry Definitions is accessible in the online Sustainable Design section at www.metalconstruction.org.