Śląskie Voivodeship is one of Poland’s strongest economic regions. Nearly 13% of the GDP is generated in this very area. This ranks the Voivodeship as second in the country. The share of market and non-market services amounts to nearly 60% and industry – 32%, and accordingly, the region holds the leading position in Poland.
According to the most resent available data from the regional authorities, exports are primarily directed to: Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, France and the United States.
There is no need of convincing anyone that Poland “stands” on Silesian coal: it is an incontrovertible fact that the region has supplying this fuel for domestic and export needs for decades – however, the expenses of extracting of coal from ever deeper layers have skyrocketed, and accordingly, many Silesian mines –until recent times, financial giants – are in financial straits, and millions of tonnes remain unsold and heaped up.
The global drop in coal prices has had the effect that this Polish commodity has become very expensive, and as a consequence, most mines will be prompted – should they wish to survive – to cut expenses, limit mining operations and employment.
On the other hand, the manufacturing and export of specialized mining equipment and machinery has become most profitable for Silesian enterprises. Two companies must be recognized at this point: Famur and Kamex.
The region is the largest domestic producer of “positive energy”. As a matter of fact, “positive energy” is highlighted in the regional logo. The high rank of the Tauron Group among Polish enterprises certainly is clear proof to this effect. The infrastructure of this power supplier is constantly modernized. However, as the company’s operations are based on fossil fuels, plenty remains to be done before one can say that the generated product is “ecological” and “green”.
Manufacturers of sustainable and environment-friendly energy sources have not missed their chance. Such companies include manufacturer of parts to wind power plants, such as masts, turbines, propeller blades (6 plants, including ISD Huta Częstochowa) and manufacturers of solar panels and photovoltaic cells (a number of companies, including the Polish WATT SA and Bauer Solar Production, known throughout the world).
Paradoxically, closed mining shafts are becoming tourist attractions. Accordingly, old renovated coal mines in Katowice and Rybnik, together with the old silver mine in Tarnowskie Góry, the antique “Guido” mine in Zabrze, and a number of museums (matches, railroads and printing), are components of the Śląskie Voivodeship Historical Technology Route (a total of 36 sites). The Route has won a number of awards and distinctions, and in 2010 was placed on the prestigious European Route of Industrial
Undoubtedly, the Silesian Voivodeship is becoming more and more associated with the automotive industry, and we are constantly receiving news about new large investment projects of this industry in the region, new jobs and new vehicle models. This sector includes the following actors: Fiat Auto Poland (Tychy), General Motors Manufacturing Poland, Tenneco Automotive Eastern Europe (Gliwice), Valeo (Czechowice-Dziedzice).
Only during the first six months of 2014, the Tychy –based Fiat Auto Poland manufactured 174,127 automobiles, that is, 11.2% more against last year’s corresponding period. Production of all Fiat-Chrysler automobiles has increased. Fiat 500 broke the records – 101.654 cars, and accordingly, a 12% increase. Other results: Abarth 500 – 4,327 cars, and an increase of 6.4%; Lancil Ypsilon – 36,689 cars and an increase of 7.4%. Fiat Powertrain Technologies, based in Bielsko-Biała, manufactures 1.3 Multijet engines (diesel) and 0.9 TwinAir engines (petrol). The latter was nominated in 2010 as Engine of the Year by TOP GEAR, the British automobile monthly.
Aircraft industries are expanding in a resolute manner in the region. Over 20 such businesses are operating in the Śląskie Voivodeship; most of them manufacture parts for global aircraft companies, such as AVIO, Alenia Aeronautica, General Electric. For example, the Silesian AVIO plant manufactures engine turbine parts for, inter alia, Pratt&Whitney.
However, the Silesian aircraft industry is not only involved in parts for large foreign machinery and aircrafts. These are also small businesses with domestic capital, manufacturers of new structures. To cite an example, Margański & Mysłowski constructed a two-engine (with piston drive) EM11 Orka plane. This plane, classified as domestic light aircraft, has already received the appropriate certificate from the European Aviation Safety Agency.
A few words about transport, albeit this time, not by road. The Alstom Konstal plant in Chorzów has been most successful. It manufactures street cars and subway cars, which are already on tracks in Istanbul, Budapest and Warsaw.
Most Polish PC users have undoubtedly heard of GOODRAM – these are the RAMs assembled by Wilk Elektronik in Łaziska Górne. Established in 1991, this company became the largest distributor of computer memory (storage) in Poland. It opened a factory in Łaziska in 2003 – the only such plant in Central Europe; in 2008 it concluded a strategic partnership agreement with Toshiba Electronics Europe, and in 2013 invested in the state of the art Panasonic production line. Today, it is the manufacturer of USB and computer memory for industrial purposes; its goods are exported to the Near East and Africa.
Optopol Technology (Zawiercie) produces modern medical equipment. In 2006, it commenced the production of the SOCT Copernicus optical tomography, succeeded by the ultramodern spectral SOCT Copernicus HR. These devices (and others) are used, inter alia, in surgery of the eye, and are exported all over the world. It is most interesting to learn that the Silesian company’s distributor in Japan is none other than Canon.
Coming to the food industry, one just cannot overlook the Silesian standard-bearing beer from the Żywiec brewery, with its decades of fame. This beer is produced in the brewery established in the XIX century by Archduke Albrecht Frederick Habsburg. Widely recognized and valued throughout the world, it is exported to over 40 countries.
Traditional regional Silesian specialities are not produced on a massive and gigantic scale, on the other hand, they are greatly appreciated in Poland and abroad. These products are registered with the EU and enjoy protected status due to their name, place of origin or traditional method of preparation.
Accordingly, the oscypek cheese, produced from sheep milk according to an old recipe in Silesia (and in Małopolska) is marked with the Protected Designation of Origin symbol. Furthermore, the kołocz pieczony (a type of yeast cake with a butter-like fragrance, with stuffing) is in the EU Protected Geographical Indication register.
The list of traditional products, kept by the Polish Ministry of Agriculture, already contains 137 such items. It contains such original specialities as krupniok śląski (a type of cold cut – so-called “kaszanka”, based on giblets, blood and buckwheat); dried fruit known as “pieczki śląskie”; tatarczuch – buckwheat bread adopted centuries ago from Tatars; and tatarczówka – an acorales root - based liquor, bitter and hard to swallow, compensated by its alleged magical properties.
Customers and consumers are certainly familiar with the Ekoland brand. The company has its seat in Tychy and is a member of the Maspex Wadowice Group. Its products include juices, beverages and nectars.
Services are also a part of the Śląskie Voivodeship’s business picture. BPO and SSC service centres have achieved spectacular success. The availability of a highly skilled staff, proficient in English, favours investment in such services.
The following companies, inter alia, have situated their BPO and SSC centres in the region: Gallup Polska (Ruda Śląska) - call centre; ING Bank Śląski (Katowice) – settlement centre; Fiat (Bielsko-Biała) – financial and accounting services centre; Avio Polska (Bielsko-Biała) – R & D centre, production centre; Capgemini (Katowice) – IT, advisory and outsourcing services; Ernst & Young (Katowice) – accounting and financial advisory services; tax and transaction consulting; Comarch (Katowice) – IT outsourcing services and consulting; PwC (Katowice) – advisory services (inter alia tax, legal, financial and consulting advice; DHL Polska (Dąbrowa Górnicza) - distribution centre; TRW Automotive (Częstochowa) - financial and engineering centre; Unilever (Katowice) – transport operations centre; SMT Software (Katowice and Gliwice) – IT outsourcing IT; Kroll Ontrack (Katowice) – R & D centre (the largest data recovery and investigative IT laboratory in Central and Eastern Europe).