Auto companies join forces to promote central Germany

Halle, Germany. Companies based in central Germany want to form the first German supra-regional cluster for the auto industry.

Interested companies are: DaimlerChrysler AG, Magna International Inc., Adam Opel AG, Porsche AG, Siemens VDO Automotive and Volkswagen AG.

"With an economic strategy, central Germany could become one of the most innovative regions of growth within Europe by 2010," say promoters of the project.

The basic idea is that only a supra-regional network of corporations and scientists can attract new companies against global competition.

The German regions of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thueringen are expected to form the core of the cluster. Another aim of the project is to boost eastern Germany as an economic entity.

Local auto industry and scientific centers in Dessau, Dresden, Halle, Jena, Magdeburg and Leipzig will become the core of the new network.

Peter Claussen, head of the BMW Leipzig plant and spokesman for the automotive cluster, hopes that more managers from companies from Mecklenburg to Saxony will get involved.

So far he said, "most of the decision makers come from the West."

Bart Groot is the chairman of the advisory board of Regionenmarketing Mitteldeutschland GmbH, a marketing organization for central Germany which is involved in the project, compared the situation to a game of chess.

"We need a clear strategy, persistence and optimism to be successful," he said.

The main difference between the project and most other similar plans is that it involves several federal states. It also relies on the private sector rather than governmental management.

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