Die Region Heilbronn-Franken ist eine der wirtschaftsstärksten Regionen in ganz Deutschland.

Heilbronn-Franken, the region of global market leaders

Heilbronn-Franken, the region of global market leaders, is a place of great variety. The lovely Tauber Valley in the north, the agricultural Hohenlohe area with its numerous biking and hiking trails along the Kocher and Jagst rivers, as well as the industrial core in and around the region’s centre in Heilbronn, which also happens to be Germany’s largest producer of red wine, combine to offer a broad quality of life spectrum.

Heilbronn-Franken can hold its own against better-known regions of Germany. First and foremost, the region’s great density of global market leaders, unmatched anywhere else, builds the foundation of its current and future prosperity. The basis for this prosperity and for the region’s low unemployment rate is a strong economy that develops dynamically and constantly meets new challenges.

Although the rural areas predominate, Heilbronn-Franken is primarily an industrial region. The regional centre of Heilbronn, which was known as the "Swabian Liverpool" during the 19th century's rapid industrialisation, is largely responsible. Due to its flourishing paper industry, Heilbronn was the city with the most factories in Württemberg in 1832.

The manufacturing industry continues to form the economic backbone of the city and the region. The regional GDP in 2011 was 33.7 billion Euros, more than 39,000 Euros per inhabitant. Manufacturing provided 43.7% compared with an average only 39.1% throughout the state of Baden-Württemberg. The industrial hubs are within the city and county of Heilbronn, where the region’s largest employer, Audi, has numerous suppliers nearby, such as Kolbenschmidt, Kaco Sealing Systems, the long-standing Heilbronn firm Läpple, the gear systems manufacturer Getrag in Untergruppenbach and Bosch in Abstatt. With Kaco New Energy in Neckarsulm, a producer of power inverters, the region has a heavyweight in the solar industry.

The wholesale/retail and services branches have grown increasingly important in recent decades, whereas the once dominant role of agriculture has diminished. Globally successful enterprises such as the Schwarz Group of Neckarsulm with Lidl and Kaufland, the screw distributor Würth and Berner of Künzelsau, and the sports specialty store collective Intersport, headquartered in Heilbronn, contribute significantly to the region’s prosperity.

The regional economy is rounded out by a wide range of retail businesses and more than 12,000 professional contractors—both branches provide anchors of stability crucial to a functioning economy and a high standard of living in the surrounding residential areas.

Another reason for the success of the Heilbronn-Franken region is its long tradition of entrepreneurship, which continues to flourish today. This commitment is reflected in the exceptionally high innovation capability of enterprises. Regardless whether it’s a corporation, medium-sized enterprise, or small business—research and development are writ large in the business mindset here. Only through smart new ideas and constant optimisation of existing products and services can firms to hold their own against increasingly fierce global competition.

That’s particularly important for a highly export-oriented region like Heilbronn-Franken: exports from the region were 52.2% in 2012, led by the county of Heilbronn at 61.7%, whereas overall in Baden-Württemberg exports were just 45%. Heilbronn-Franken promotes its image as the self-declared Region of Global Market Leaders and Hidden Champions.

Mostly it’s our truly great entrepreneurs who give a public face to the region’s often hidden success. Reinhold Würth led the Künzelsau-based firm that bears his name to be the world’s number one in fasteners and assembly technology.

Starting in the town of Lauffen in the Zabergäu, Heinz-Dieter Schunk built Schunk, the world’s leading specialist in clamping and gripping technology. And Wolf-Gerd Dieffenbacher brought the Eppingen-based plant and machinery installation firm Dieffenbacher to the number one position globally in wood-working equipment. The list of family firms with long and proud histories could be continued at considerable length.