Łódź — the third-largest city in Poland by population — is known as a former center of the textile industry. The city’s rebirth started, when the Łódź Special Economic Zone (ŁSSE) was established in 1997. One of 14 SEZs in Poland, it attracts investors by business incentives, such as tax exemption and developed infrastructure. In 2020, ŁSSE was named the best in Europe and third in the world in a ranking by fDi Magazine from the Financial Times group.
The capital expenditures by companies operating in the zone amounted to about PLN 23 billion, according to the Polish Investment and Trade Agency. Łódź has diversified into industries other than manufacturing, such as IT, business services and R&D. Its key investors include Europe’s biggest home appliance maker Whirlpool, Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson and Japanese IT titan Fujitsu.
“Key industries which we try to attract to the region include light manufacturing with advanced technologies and modern services for business,” Agnieszka Sobieszek, deputy director at ŁSSE, told the Warsaw Business Journal (WBJ).
Since early 2000, Łódź has been growing as a business services location. Nowadays, about 30,000 accountants, programmers, engineers, and supply chain specialists work in the city for international companies, according to the City of Łódź Office.
The Łódź zone stands out by its logistics infrastructure. There are two international airports nearby and an extensive cargo rail network, including the Poland-China railway connection. In addition, the zone is located at the intersection of trans-European highways, A1 and A2. Łódź railway stations offer direct connections with major Polish cities, including Warsaw (130 km), Kraków (252 km), Wrocław (217 km), and Tri-City (337 km). The city is now working on a project to link three main stations — Fabryczna, Kaliska, and Widzew — with a cross-city tunnel.
In addition, the Polish government plans to build the Central Communication Port — a new transport hub between Łódź and Warsaw. The project includes the construction of a new airport that is expected to initially handle 45 million passengers a year.
The central point of the city’s revitalization plan is the New Centre of Łódź (NCŁ), which assumes the reconstruction of roughly 100 ha in the heart of the city. NCŁ features renovated Łódź Power Plant Complex (EC1) building, which used to be the first power station of the city.
It is now a space for art and culture. The EC1 complex is also the headquarters of institutions bringing together artists and filmmakers: Łódź Film Commission and the Centre for Comics and Interactive Narration.
The central station Fabryczna is now one of the most modern railway stations in Poland with the roof made of thousands of glass and metal panels, reflecting sunlight. Visitors, coming to Łódź, head from there to Piotrkowska Street — a symbol of the city and one of the longest promenades in Europe. The street pulsates with life thanks to dozens of restaurant yards, pubs, and music clubs.
Łódź offers over 578,000 sqm of modern office space, with a further 88,600 sqm to be completed by the end of 2022. In the last five years, the total stock of office space in Łódź has increased by over 60% and the city is now ranked seventh among the largest office markets in Poland, according to Zuzanna Krech, regional director central Poland at Cushman & Wakefield cited in “Investment Potential of Łódź” report by recruitment and consulting firm Antal.
Rental prices in Łódź are more affordable compared to the largest cities. Square meter on average costs €13.5/month compared to €23.5 in Warsaw. A distinctive feature of Łódź office stock is its wide range of revitalized post-industrial projects.
For example, Łódź Monopolis — a complex combining office and cultural space — gave a second life to the historic plants of Monopol Wódczany. In 2020, the complex won an award in global real estate competition MIPIM, beating competitors from Singapore, Montreal, and Bangkok.
The other well-known commercial spaces are Textorial Park, consisting of three office buildings in the Księży Młyn area that borders Źródliska Park and Fuzja project in the city center. New projects that offer a more boutique-style feel include Hi Piotrkowska, Łódź, Brama Miasta and Łódź Work.
Moreover, there are many coworking operators on the Łódź market, including Chillispaces.com, Business Zone, Business Link, and New Work. There are also initiatives such as SkyHUB, offering free office space with a library for start-ups, Katarzyna Prus from the Łódź city office told the WBJ.
Companies planning to develop operations in Łódź will also find here qualified engineers, IT specialists, and financiers.
Mateusz Sipa, vice director in the Business Development and International Relations Bureau at the City of Łódź, points out the main features of the city:
- A green city: Łódź is one of the greenest cities in Poland. Almost a fifth of the area of the city is covered by green spaces.
- A sustainable city: Łódź undertakes a number of CSR activities, such as the regeneration of urban green areas in cooperation with local companies.
- An example of urban regeneration: the Area Regeneration Program covers the area of almost 1,800 ha inhabited by about 150,000 people or a fifth of the city’s population.
- An unusual tourist destination: recommended by the National Geographic Traveler (one of the top destinations in the sustainable development category in 2022), the Guardian UK (one of the best holiday destinations in 2021) and the Lonely Planet (second-best destination to visit in 2019).