Challenge in Katowice – part 3
We continue our exploration of the project run by the City of Katowice, where investors are encouraged to share their valuable insights on how they perceive the city and their lives in the region. In this edition we hear from Michał Mateja of Vaillant Group and Darr Kadłubowski of Hermes Health as they share their experiences and observations about this vibrant city.
Investors Assistance Department: You are a new investor in the local market, which is why we are curious why you have chosen Katowice. What influenced your decision?
Michał Mateja: When searching for a suitable location for our IT & Data Site, we considered various cities in Poland and abroad. However, we were looking for a dynamic and vibrant environment that aligns with our values. Katowice is a rapidly developing city that offers numerous opportunities for both entrepreneurs and employees. We were pleasantly surprised by the transformation the city has undergone in recent years. The visible decarbonization has turned Katowice into more than just mining shafts and heavy industry; it has become a rapidly growing metropolis.
That's why Katowice prevailed over other locations we had in mind.
How do you assess that decision now?
We definitely have no regrets. The advantages of the location, its good connectivity with neighboring cities and provinces, and our implementation of hybrid work make it possible for our team to include people from all over Poland. Our colleagues from other Polish cities and abroad always enjoy visiting our Katowice office, praising the city's gastronomic and cultural scene, as well as its impressive modernization.
What is Katowice like from a business point of view, and what is it like from its resident’s perspective, such as spending leisure time, engaging in sports, cultural and entertainment activities? Do you feel comfortable here?
We all know how important it is nowadays to maintain a proper work-life balance. Kato wice certainly facilitates that for us. In addition to its strong business infrastructure, the city has much more to offer, which is why our employees not only enjoy visiting our Katowice office but also spend more and more of their free time in the city. For me, a resident of the Metropolis GZM, Katowice has been a center of events for many years, but its attractiveness has definitely increased in recent years. Looking from the perspective of the city's business history, Katowice has produced many generations of professionals and created positions in the IT sector that require greater expertise and the use of modern technologies. Therefore, we believe that our presence in the Katowice job market will bring a breath of fresh air and new interesting challenges for local IT specialists.
Based on the time you have spent here and your experiences, would you recommend investments, work, or visits to our city to other entrepreneurs?
Definitely yes. The relatively short distance from the city to Katowice Airport, Kraków Airport and its good connectivity make it easier for international companies to operate here. Moreover, the city's coherent development plan ensures that Katowice doesn't completely detach itself from its mining past but seamlessly combines it with modernity. The well-thought-out city development strategy has led to the creation of separate zones for culture, business, and education, as well as properly designed green spaces with bicycle paths. All of this has contributed to the attractiveness of the city, not only to entrepreneurs, especially in the field of modern technologies like ours, but also to residents who seek both excitement and tranquility. Therefore, we highly recommend visiting and working in Katowice, and investments once we have built our team :-)
Investors Assistance Department: You are our "youngest" investor. Why have you chosen Katowice?
Darr Kadłubowski: There are many cities in Europe that can capture someone’s imagination, Paris for its cuisine, Bern for its natural beauty, and Rome for its history. But when I first came to Katowice, I found all three in one place. However, I wasn’t just looking for that for myself, I needed to find a home for over 50 employees. We needed a city that everyone could find their place. A city with food, music, culture, a city that was good for families and students, a city that was welcoming to Poles and foreign-born employees alike.
For us, Katowice is also beautiful, but I guess it’s not enough for a businessman?
It couldn’t just be a beautiful city, it had to work for the business too, and that’s where Katowice really shines. It’s a tremendously business friendly city (with even friendlier people). Every time I am back in Katowice there’s a new commercial building. The hardest part was picking location for our office because there are so many wonderful Class-A spaces available.
We can reveal that you’ve finally decided on an office in .KTW. Do your employees like it?
Our office space turned out to be such a hit with the employees that we have ended up having a few remote workers from other provinces ask to re locate to Katowice to be able to do flex-work from the office.
And then there’s the big fear every investor has, the Polish language. As a Polish-as-a-second-language speaker myself I was deeply concerned that I would end up having to wade through negotiations in a language I was only partially familiar with.
But it wasn’t that bad, was it? Not in here!
Fortunately in Katowice, a multicultural city, that was never the case. It was easy to find plenty of services in English. It was never hard to find an English speaking notary, lawyer, commercial banker, or a real estate agent to help with our business needs. Of course, it’s worth giving Polish a shot and with multiple language schools there is no reason why one shouldn't try to pick up a second (or third!) language.
And what was your biggest surprise?
What surprised me most was how open Katowice is. I’ve lived in numerous major metropolitan cities, from San Fran-
cisco to Dallas, but Katowice’s accessi bility for a night-owl like myself was rivaled only by Las Vegas! Multiple delicious restaurants, Zapiekanka shops, and bars are open late into the night. Plus, there are 3 gyms right in the center open 24-hours a day, perfect for burning off the calories after a big meal of żurek (sour soup) and kluski śląskie (Silesian noodles) :-)
And what does an American do in his free time in Katowice?
Excursions, sightseeing. Getting out the city is easy, with 2 international airports (KTW and KRK) within an hour drive from the city center, and an easy access to the rest of Poland is provided by the A4 motorway. I was able to make seve ral day trips to nearby cities and at tractions. However, I didn't have to leave the city to have a nice time, it was enough to visit the Silesian Museum. It has a massive exhibit about the Silesia history and the pivotal role Polish miners and workers played in the struggle for independence. And when the weather is nice, like it was on my last visit in June, you can spend all day walking around downtown or one of the many public green spaces scattered around the city!
Looking back on your decision, what do you make of it?
Doing business in Poland, and especially in Katowice, has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Whether you’re opening a business, doing a few months as a digital nomad, or just looking to add an extra stop on your next vacation in Europe, I highly recommend you to give Katowice a chance!