Tarnowo Podgórne is one of the 17 communes located in the poznański county, which has about 27 thousand inhabitants residing on 101 km2. It has one of the largest budgets in the Wielkopolska province. The primary objective of the investment projects carried out by the commune is to increase the living comfort of the residents, chiefly by meeting the high requirements and expectations regarding technical and social infrastructure.

The commune of Tarnowo Podgórne has 450 hectares of land designated for economic activation. One of the areas where the commune supports local business are activities aimed at spatial and infrastructural preparation of land for development – today all investment areas have access to basic utilities.

Consequently, the number of business entities, both the factories of well-known corporations and smaller, local enterprises, is growing year by year. Currently, there are over 5,500 companies operating in the commune of Tarnowo Podgórne, which provide nearly 55 thousand jobs. It is the largest labor market in the vicinity of Poznań (second labor market for commuters in Wielkopolska after Poznań). Over 250 companies are entities with foreign capital, and they have invested nearly 1 billion dollars in the commune.

The current investors represent a wide range of industries, including logistics, retail, printing, automotive and food. On the other hand, representatives of modern, innovative technologies are warmly welcomed among potential investors.

Position of the commune in the region

In terms of social and economic development, Tarnowo Podgórne stands out both against the Wielkopolska province and the country. It is a lasting advantage that has been visible for at least twenty years (cf. Gorzelak, Jałowiecki 1998). In 2012, the own income of the commune budget combined with the share in PIT and CIT taxes (the equivalent of GDP at the local level) per resident amounted to 251% of the national average and 262% of the provincial average. The value of this indicator was also significantly higher than in Poznań (142%). Ten years earlier, in 2002, the commune had a similar advantage: 259% of the national average, 275% of the provincial average and 160% in relation to Poznań. Tarnowo Podgórne is therefore a leader on a sub-regional (Poznań metropolitan area), regional and national scale.

The commune owes such a good position to the investment boom which has continued since the 1990s, manifested mainly in the inflow of external investments, largely from abroad (cf. Domagalski, Kacprzak, Staszewska 2008; Kacperska 2001; Wdowicka 2002). In addition, development processes are reinforced by the high activity of local entrepreneurs. New investment projects are carried out and they thrive in spite of concerns expressed since the end of the 1990s about the volatility of foreign involvement and draining the local labor market.

So far, it has been possible to balance the demand for employees by commuters from the surrounding communes as well as from Poznań. The capital of the province is a reservoir not only of highly competent specialists, but also of unskilled workers.

The good financial standing of the commune makes it subject to the “soak-the-rich” taxation [janosikowe], i.e. payment for compensatory part of the general subsidy, cf. Obrębalski 2013). For many years, the amount of this tax has been maintained at the level of about PLN 10 million per year. In 2012, janosikowe accounted for 13% of the commune budget income.

The crisis and its impact on the commune

The global economic crisis which began in 2008 and had the form of a mild stagnation, a slowdown in the economic growth in Poland, did not significantly affect Tarnowo Podgórne. The commune own income did not collapse which shows that the companies which operate here were not affected by the crisis. Also, there were no mass layoffs related to the reduction in business operations nor an increased number of bankruptcies. On the contrary, the number of registered enterprises increased between 2008 and 2012. Nevertheless, in 2008-2012 the number of the unemployed increased from 125 to 358 people, i.e. almost three times, but in relation to the working age population residing in the commune it was insignificant – an increase from 0.9% to 2.4%. This level of the indicator shows that the problem of unemployment is basically non-existent in the commune. What is more, in 2008-2012 the number of people employed by companies operating in Tarnowo and employing at least nine staff increased from 17.5 thousand to 18.7 thousand. However, taking into account only the residents of the commune, the number of people working (within or outside the commune) increased from 11.8 thousand to 14 thousand.

Lack of negative effects of the global crisis and domestic slowdown on the economic situation in Tarnowo Podgórne shows the relatively high resilience of the local economic system to external shocks or unfavorable trends (cf. Taleb 2013; Celińska-Janowicz, Płoszaj 2015).

Economic structure and its changes

At present, almost 5,000 enterprises operate in the area of Tarnowo Podgórne commune. A little over 600 belong to the industrial sector and the vast majority are service and trading companies. There are almost 1.4 thousand people running a business activity per 10 thousand residents. In 2012, the number of business entities registered in REGON per 1,000 residents was 196, which placed Tarnowo Podgórne significantly above the national (100) and provincial (109) average, and even the value of this indicator for Poznań (183).

Over 250 companies operating in Tarnowo Podgórne are entities with foreign capital. Investments of foreign companies are estimated at over 1 billion dollars. The industry structure of the companies is very diverse. At present these include production as well as service, logistics and trading companies (wholesalers and large retail stores, e.g. Auchan, Decathlon, Leroy Merlin). In the logistics sector, the most recognizable investment is the Amazon distribution center opened in the second half of 2014 (up to 5.5 thousand employees at the pre-Christmas peak). Other large logistics centers belong to companies like the Musketeers Group, Prologis, Lidl, Schenker, Suus. The automotive sector is represented by: Man, Kayser, Scania and Volvo. The food sector: Strauss Cafe, Coca-Cola, Mondelez (sweets), Millano (confectionery), Glutenex (gluten-free food). The printing industry is represented by i.a.: PolskaPresse, Saueressing, POL-MAK or Schattdecor (decorative veneers for the furniture industry). The commune also is the location of a large tobacco factory and the headquarters of Imperial Tobacco Polska. In addition, a number of other industries are also present, e.g. manufacturing of machinery and equipment (Zakłady Mechaniczne Kazimieruk), electronic products (Kimball Electronics), Finnish saunas (AMS Sauna), furniture (Balma) or cardboard packaging (Hammer Poznań). The commune is also a home of sales offices of many foreign companies, such as: Herlitz, Stihl, Grundfos, Buderus, Hammer, Hansgrohe, Rehau, Remmers, Lidl.

The economic landscape of the commune is therefore determined by large foreign and – although to a much lesser extent – domestic investment projects from outside the commune (e.g. Zakłady Mechaniczne Kazimieruk which – after decades of operations in Poznań – opened a factory in Tarnowo in 2010). There are also examples of local companies which started from scratch and developed into large companies operating on the national and/or international market (e.g. Balma – an office furniture factory).

Labor market

The situation on the labor market in Tarnowo Podgórne is very good. According to the estimates of the commune office, the companies operating here employ about 55 thousand people (including the Amazon seasonal workers in the pre-Christmas peak). This is almost twice as many as the number of commune residents. Official data covering only companies with nine or more staff indicated that in 2012 there were 18.7 thousand people employed by such businesses. Therefore, Tarnowo Podgórne is a commune of great importance for the supra-local labor market. The data by Statistics Poland (GUS) show that in 2006 almost 8.4 thousand people commuted to work in the commune, mainly from Poznań. In turn, there were about 1.8 thousand Tarnowo residents commuting to work outside the commune – they mainly commuted to Poznań where the labor market is more diversified than in Tarnowo Podgórne, which is important particularly for persons with specialist higher education.

Unemployment in the commune practically does not exist. In 2014, the share of the registered unemployed in the working age population amounted to 2%. Everyone who wants to work can find a job, although not always in line with their education, experience or expectations. High demand on the labor market is visible – job advertisements can be found in many places. The problems concern small groups, e.g. people with disabilities or women in pre-retirement age. The shortage of employees is more important. Respondents often emphasized that the labor market has been drained and the lack of hands to work may be a barrier to the future development of the commune. However, such fears have lingered for many years and so far the companies have managed to find employees, mainly those commuting from outside the commune.

A certain paradox can be found in this case. The higher the wealth of the population, the higher their aspirations and expectations regarding the future of their children. In 2002, a general upper secondary school was opened in the commune (it improved access to this form of education, however, the most talented graduates of lower secondary schools usually continue their education in Poznań upper secondary schools). The Local-Government Music School [Samorządowa Szkoła Muzyczna] (1st degree) has been operating since 2011. Simultaneously, the labor market in the commune needs, above all, people with vocational and technical education – there are far fewer jobs requiring higher education. Therefore, it seems that the commune will increasingly use labor resources from outside its area. This indicates, i.a., the need for increased coordination and cooperation in the Poznań metropolitan area.

The Poznań Job Center which supervises the area of Tarnowo Podgórne, tries to operate in a modern way, i.e. not as an “unemployment office” but as an intermediary on the labor market. Nevertheless, it has not been seen by employers as an entity assisting in attracting employees. Companies are more willing to use the help of specialist headhunting or temporary work agencies (which gives rise to controversy about stretching the labor law and reducing the stability and attractiveness of employment – the most publicized cases concern the situation of temporary workers in Amazon’s logistics center, cf. e.g. Witkowski 2015).