TRANSFORMATION OF THE CITY
In recent years Katowice has undergone a huge transformation. Not so long ago, the city stereotyped by many as a symbol of Silesia: the place of heavy industry, coal and steel. The road that Katowice has travelled, becoming the modern capital of a metropolitan area with 2 million inhabitants, is also an example of the transformation that has taken place throughout Poland.
For years, the landmark welcoming the visitors to the capital of Silesia, was the coal mine winding tower. And it is still so today. However, the "Warszawa II" tower, visible from afar, has completely different functions. The tower's second life is an observation deck with a view on the colourful and modern Katowice. Its transformation was an element of revitalisation of the former mine area. The Culture Zone, a unique place not only in Poland, but in the entire Europe, was established in this area. The delightful buildings of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio, the Silesian Museum and the International Congress Centre were built here. The Zone is complemented by Spodek, i.e. a sports and entertainment hall referring to the shape of a spacecraft, and modern office buildings: an eye-catching structure of .KTW and the nearby Altus, the tallest building in the Silesian Voivodeship.
It is the Culture Zone that has become the new symbol of Katowice. The city where an extraordinary metamorphosis took place in almost all fields. There wouldn't have been without the transformation of the residents of Katowice, who fell in love with their city and became its ambassadors. This revival began for good a few years ago during the European Capital of Culture campaign. And it continues. The proud inhabitants of their small homeland are the greatest asset of Katowice. Their involvement activates changes in the capital of the Silesian Voivodeship, one of the best developing cities in Poland.
In recent years, Katowice has made enormous progress in terms of eco-responsibility. It was the first city in Poland to introduce the "Plan of Low-Emission Economy". The implementation of the plan contributes to improving air quality and energy security. The city keeps improving the efficiency of waste management. In addition, it is focused on the development of clean urban transport and a bicycle-sharing system. At present there are 52 stations in Katowice, where over 400 bikes (including cargo bikes) is available for use by the public. Most importantly, environmental models are passed on to children from an early age thanks to many educational programmes and cyclical events, such as the Family Picnic "Eco-responsibly".
Katowice is one of the greenest cities in Poland. Over 40% of its area is covered with forests, which along with parks and green squares are an excellent place for recreation and rest. During the United Nations Climate Summit COP24, organized in Katowice, the city created special application wcopdrzewo.katowice.eu. (podlinkować) City residents can indicate where new trees should be planted.
A green oasis in the centre of the capital of the Silesian Voivodeship is "Las Murckowski". It is a real gem of Katowice, where we can find even 300-year-old outstanding natural features and unique species of plants and animals. Another place, which is very popular among the residents, is the Valley of Three Ponds. This complex of gardens and ponds encourages active sporting activities. You can rent a canoe or spend time with children on the water playground.
The Upper Silesian urban area, whose capital city is Katowice, consists of 41 cities with a population of 2.5 million. Residents commute daily to work, to school, often crossing borders different cities. Thanks to an extensive road and railway network, a journey to cities located up to 50 km apart does not take longer than 30-40 minutes. Katowice is the central hub in this transport system. They are among the best-connected cities in Poland.
Thanks to a well-developed transport network, travelling both inside and outside the city or the agglomeration, is not a problem.
Katowice is not only a home to approx. 300,000 inhabitants, but also the heart of Metropolis GZM (Górnośląsko-Zagłębiowska Metropolia) comprising 41 cities and communes, inhabited by over 2 million people. The metropolitan area created in July 2017, is a sign of joint commitment and care for region's prosperity, which gives a real opportunity for accelerated, dynamic development.
The city, which has always been associated with mining and heavy industry, is today the heart of the region that aspires to be a leader in innovation and new technologies. Katowice has transfigured itself into a thriving economic centre, a friendly place to invest and live. IBM, Unilever, Fujitsu, Rockwell Automation are just some of the global brands that create jobs here. It is not without a reason that Katowice is a perfectly connected city, near which the A1 and A4 motorways intersect, enabling comfortable travel in all directions within Europe. Major cities of the Metropolitan Area are connected by the city thoroughfare traversing the centre of Katowice, and the dense network of railway lines makes it possible to comfortably reach Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Berlin in just a few hours. Katowice international Airport is one of the largest and most dynamically developing airports in Poland. Within a radius of 100 km there are two other international airports in Kraków and Ostrava.
Metropolis GZM is an unlimited human, intellectual and infrastructural potential. It is Poland's centre of the automotive industry, which for a long time has contributed to the GDP more than that the mining traditionally associated with the region. It is a region with a huge economic zone and many sub-zones. It is an organism that reduces developmental barriers, where the richest cities consistently work also for the development of smaller cities. Finally, it is a significant and constantly improving quality of life for the residents and the pride in being a part of Metropolis GZM.
CITY OF EVENTS
Katowice used to be the leader in the amount of coal produced in its coal mines, but today it shines in rankings for exceptional cultural and business events. A wide range of hotel facilities, state-of-the-art conference and exhibition complex and perfect access by various means of transport are a magnet attracting the organisers, who choose the centre of the agglomeration as the venue for their events. This is why Katowice was chosen as the host city of the COP24 Climate Summit.
The festivals and cyclical events organised in Katowice also include supra-regional and international projects. Music lovers, theatre fans and enthusiasts of unusual experiences every year visit the capital of the agglomeration to learn about current trends, listen to world stars and feel the unique atmosphere. The Silesian Jazz Festival, Rawa Blues Festival, Off Festival or the Tauron Nowa Muzyka festival have become a permanent fixture in the calendar of important music events, and the A PART International Theatre Festival, the International Summer Theatre Garden and the Festival of Directing Art are significant events in the theatre community.
Year by year, the meetings and conferences industry in Katowice grows. In 2017, 6334 business events were organised in the province capital, attended by 826 thousand people. This is a growth of 8% compared to 2016. This is the result of a consistent policy of business tourism development. An important role in this case is played by the International Congress Centre opened in 2015, which together with the Spodek Arena creates the largest conference complex in Poland. Suffice it to mention the European Economic Congress – the largest business event of Central Europe, or the European Congress of Small and Medium Size Enterprises, attended by representatives of the most important sector of the economy of Poland. We should also not forget about the annual Intel Extreme Masters event, which this year was visited by 170 thousand people. A confirmation of the strong position of Katowice on the business meetings market is the ongoing COP 24 – UN Climate Summit. And next year Katowice will host another significant event - the World Anti-Doping Conference. Apart from the image-building value for the city, business events provide measurable benefits for Katowice's trade and services. In 2017, the total expenses of conference attendees in Katowice amounted to PLN 140 million.
Organising these events would not be possible without the transformation of the city and the entire region. Thanks to a well-managed development strategy, it was possible to build a unique base, with the key point being the Culture Zone located in the centre of the city. The International Congress Centre, the new Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra concert hall and the new Silesian Museum are adjacent to the iconic Spodek Arena, becoming a symbol of the revitalised part of Katowice. All those buildings are architectural gems, winners of many prizes for their unique design, and at the same time with providing a varied and attractive offer available to all residents of the agglomeration. The picture is complemented by the towering .KTW office building, in which the world's leading companies have their offices, more and more often locating their facilities in Katowice.
Such a wide range of events is complemented by hotel facilities, offering guests places of various standards – from five-star suites to hostel rooms suitable for students' budgets. It is very easy to reach them – an extensive network of roads connecting the entire region, a modern railway station ensuring the comfort of travel with the PKP (Polish Railways) or the proximity of the International Airport in Pyrzowice make Katowice an ideal place for organising all kinds of meetings.
Katowice has made a change and today they are a leader in innovation and new technologies. It is also at the forefront of Polish cities that have decided to develop modern business sectors. One of these sectors is the development of the regional office space market in Katowice. Just building office space alone would not suffice. It must be supported by the modern office services industry that had to established and is developing.
One of its elements is access to employees. Every year about 25,000 people who enter the labour market graduate from Katowice's universities. They know languages and complete fields of study which are taught in a progressive manner. Are excellent candidates for employees of companies that have decided to set up their offices or headquarters. The human potential of Katowice is complemented by excellent technical facilities. As a result, global giants such as Mentor Graphics, Rockwell Automation, Hewlett Packard, Ernst & Young, Deloite, Capgemini and IBM opened branches in the city.
The consistent policy of Katowice with regard to the development of modern office services contributed to a strong and growing property development market. Modern office buildings were built in the city, including the complex at Konduktorska Street, "Tiramisu" at DTŚ, a4 Business Park, the first KTW tower. However, new buildings are not the only place where office services develop. They also enter the post-industrial landscape and use old factory buildings, giving them new life. This is the case in the Porcelain Factory at Porcelanowa Street, which was revitalised by the Giesche Foundation. In addition to the museum part, a technology park was built there, where about 40 companies operate. These are IT companies, media and creative agencies, art galleries, showrooms, concept stores, as well as dental offices and aesthetic medicine clinics.