Voka – Chamber of Commerce and Industry Limburg’s mission is to create the optimal framework for successful entrepreneurship as the closest, most influential and professional network of entrepreneurs and the representative organisation of companies in Limburg, thereby contributing fundamentally to the prosperity and well-being of its region. CEO Johann J.L. Leten discusses the Chamber’s goals and activities, as well as the region’s potential.
European Times: Could you please elaborate on the Chamber’s goals, structure and activities?
Johann J.L. Leten: Voka Limburg, which was established in 1860, has over 3.000 members, amounting to 75% of the private sector and the added value in our province.With a mission to serve both as the optimal framework for successful entrepreneurship and the most influential and professional network of entrepreneurs, we are firmly dedicated to offering a wide range of support and encouragement on various levels.
Furthermore, the Chamber strives for the widest possible balance between large, medium and small businesses, which is why we have a well-balanced management system – a Board of Directors composed of 47 member companies, an Executive Committee appointed by the Board of Directors and composed of 15 member companies, and a General Assembly composed of all member companies. Attention is also paid to fostering proper representation of the various subregions and the different economic sectors.
European Times: What are Limburg’s main advantages?
Johann J.L. Leten: Limburg is the true heart of Europe; a region with 85 million inhabitants and the centre of Europe in terms of economy, innovation and decision power. More than 60% of the European buying power lies in within 500 km of Limburg, including major metropoles such as Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London and Paris.
Limburg’s excellent geopolitical position, paired with its outstanding growth potential, continue to attract foreign investors, including global titans such as Nike, Ikea, Hyundai and many others. Over 300 foreign companies are already well-established in Limburg, amounting to 50% of the private sector. Its potential is growing even further with the development of eight million m2 of space which will be available to interested investors.
Limburg recorded a strong growth in exports over the period of 2010-2016 and industry remains the biggest export sector. Furthermore, Limburg is in the centre of the knowledge triangle ELAt (Eindhoven, Leuven, Aachen), and has three high schools and the University UHasselt, which is ranked 15th on the list of Best Small Universities.
European Times: What is your personal message?
Johann J.L. Leten: Limburg has proved its potential for overcoming challenges by reinventing its economy after experiencing some shock waves with the closing of the mines and the Ford factory in Genk. The people demonstrated flexibility and interested was shifted towards the development of SMEs, achieving a record number of start-ups in the past several years.
I invite all interested investors to explore Limburg’s potential and become one of the numerous successful business stories in the region. Limburg is your gateway to a successful market approach in the European economy.