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Brescia remains Italy's industrial capital

by Matteo Meneghello

The long awaited economic recovery might be just around the corner for Italy’s industrial capital. According to newly released data, by the end of this year Brescia's industrial production will have increased by 2.7% despite last October's dip.

A positive trend that comes after the city's business cycle bottomed out during last years' third quarter.

Yet, despite the good news, few local entrepreneurs are really in the mood to celebrate. The reason is that over the last seven years, Brescia economic landscaped has been radically transformed.

In order to remain competitive, businesses with the right skills and resources internationalized by focusing on foreign markets (exports grew 3.9% in the first six months and total volumes exceeded €7 billion). They chased international clients and orders as well as by creating new production facilities outside the national borders.

But not everyone was able to successfully pursue such strategy: since the start of the crisis, the city has lost roughly 3,000 industrial companies (out of a total of 20,000 about 15% of the total) and entire sectors of the local economy have, over the last years, been considerably impoverished. Among the most badly hit sectors are basic textiles, rubber and plastics, hosiery, and construction.

Brescia has nonetheless been able to react. The city can still be considered a business capital, and maybe, as local entrepreneurs like to boost, even “the” business capital. A claim backed up by recently released data. The area's total turnover is in fact worth €110 billion, 2.7% of national GDP, and it is the counts 560,000 jobs.

A few weeks ago even Matteo Renzi, Italy's Prime Minister, felt compelled to pay homage to the city's entrepreneur spirit during a speech he delivered at a meeting of Brescia's industrial association (Aib) that was held, certainly not by chance, inside a manufacturing plant owned by Palazzoli spa, a 100-year-old electrotechnical manufacturer.