Past success and future ambitions as the collective influence program promotes Aix-Marseille’s economic advantages

Past success and future ambitions as the collective influence program promotes Aix-Marseille’s economic advantages
The collective influence program committee was hosted by Onepoint in Aix-en-Provence
09 November 2023 / invest in provence

An innovative alliance to raise Aix-Marseille’s profile in national and international business circles

On Wednesday, November 8, members of Provence Promotion’s collective influence program met at the headquarters of the Onepoint digital consultancy in Aix-en-Provence to assess its achievements in 2023 and outline its objectives for 2024. The influence program’s priorities are determined by the shared goals of its members and the specific business networks they want to target. The influence meeting was also the occasion to discuss significant developments in the Aix-Marseille area, such as the arrival of the Olympic torch and the opening of the Jacques Chirac international school, while also emphasizing the importance of coordinating promotional and networking activities.

The members of the influence program* managed by Provence Promotion met at Onepoint’s offices at the Maison Darius Milhaud in Aix-en-Provence. This state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility opened in the spring of 2023 and perfectly illustrates the territory’s appeal and advantages when it comes to attracting talent.

Before taking stock of the projects carried out in 2023, Provence Promotion CEO Philippe Stéfanini evoked the origins of the influence program, which brings together public institutions, local governments, and prominent private-sector companies to lobby on behalf of the Aix-Marseille territory. “Our collective was jointly founded four years ago by the Port of Marseille Fos, the Marseille Provence Airport, Euroméditerranée, the Bouches-du-Rhône Department, and Provence Promotion, along with the Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Aix-Marseille-Provence. In 2024, the program will enter its fifth year of existence.”

David Zouari, Onepoint’s partner in charge of south-east France, epitomizes the type of expatriate talent the influence program is targeting. After working internationally, Zourai returned to France and was the catalyst behind the company’s choice of Aix-en-Provence as the location for the company headquarters. The mission to attract this type of expatriate talent and corporate offices to Aix-Marseille will be made easier once the Cité Scolaire Internationale Jacques Chirac opens in Marseille in 2024.

An inspirational session with the rector of the Académie d’Aix-Marseille and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region

Bernard Beignier, the rector of the Académie d’Aix-Marseille and the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region, took part in the influence program meeting and noted that parents are now prioritizing language learning for their children, especially English as it is in high demand on the job market.

The new international school in Marseille, the Cité Scolaire Internationale Jacques Chirac, will meet this need when it opens in 2024. The school, which will eventually welcome 2000 students, aims to produce trilingual graduates. “This establishment will promote a balanced and diverse mix of students, which guarantees a spirit of openness for students who attend,” said Bernard Beignier. “There will be five main choices of language of instruction: German, English, Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish.”

Bruno Goimier, the Director of Communication and S&R at Pernod Ricard France, applauded the school project: “Our company is active in 80 countries around the world, and the presence of an international school complex in Marseille can help attract or repatriate talent.”

To this end, in 2024, Provence Promotion plans to launch a new digital marketing campaign to promote Aix-Marseille to French professionals working abroad.

“The Cité Scolaire Internationale will also be a prime factor for us in attracting international companies,” added Jean-Philippe Watelet, the Managing Director of Vastint France, which has chosen the Aix-Marseille metro area as the location of its first Business Garden office complex in France. The 80 000-square-metre facility will be located in the Domaine Vallée Verte area between Marseille and Aubagne.

To conclude his remarks to the group, Bernard Beignier pointed out that Aix-Marseille is the only academic district in France where the number of German-speaking students has increased. What’s more, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region has the highest density of international school sections in France (1 section for 9000 students in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region compared to 1 section for 10 000 students in the Île de France region that includes Paris).

The goals achieved in 2023 have boosted Aix-Marseille’s economic appeal

In 2023, several key initiatives helped the influence program promote Aix-Marseille’s economic advantages. These efforts involved:

  • Positioning Aix-Marseille as a preferred location for investment with events like the Choose France conference “BEING THE #1: France’s Secret to FDI Success” at the MIPIM international real estate show in Cannes
  • Continuing to work with property and real estate directors and work environment managers from major companies by organizing tours of innovative workplaces in the Aix-Marseille area and forging a partnership with Ubiq, an office real estate consultancy
  • Highlighting the role of Aix-Marseille in fostering international discussions by hosting the Forum Aix-Marseille at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Aix-Marseille-Provence in cooperation with the DZA business consultancy
  • Connecting with key decision makers in France and around the world by welcoming delegations such as the group of French innovation leaders who are part of the Club de Paris des Directeurs de l’Innovation and American business leaders from the California Foundation on the Economy and the Environment (CFEE)

These initiatives were organized with leading companies, think tanks, professional networks, and political bodies, and they mobilized numerous members of Provence Promotion's influence program. These projects helped establish Aix-Marseille as an inspiring, dynamic, and united business ecosystem at the forefront of current issues such as decarbonization, the energy transition, sourcing talent, and the future of the workplace.

The review of 2023 also evoked the positive dialogue between India, the Port of Marseille Fos, and Provence Promotion. The collective’s role was decisive in the upcoming opening of an Indian consulate in Marseille, which will be the only one in the region.

Matthieu Vis then invited Florence Gomez, Provence Promotion’s new Director of Communications and International Relations, who is taking over the influence program, to introduce herself and present the program for 2024. The new program builds on the previous one, with a strong focus on India and California, decarbonizing energy, promoting regional metro areas as alternatives to traditional business capitals, and attracting the head offices of companies. It was also noted that preparations are underway to host the CCIFI annual conference in 2024, which will bring together more than 70 directors of French international chambers of commerce.

Among the final projects for 2023 is the organization of a media tour on November 27 to welcome journalists to Marseille as part of the handover ceremony when Aix-Marseille passes the title of European Capital of Innovation to the newly elected "iCapital". 

2024, a year of productive dialogue and collective commitment

An important part of promoting a territory’s economic opportunities to entrepreneurs and business leaders involves demonstrating the existence of a robust network of contacts that is accustomed to working together.

Marion Chaparro, the Director of Communication at Free Pro, underlined the importance of this type of collaboration: “As a locally established firm, Free Pro wants to do its part and contribute to the development of the territory. We’re delighted to be part of the influence program. By working together, we can increase our visibility both nationally and internationally.”

Quarterly dinners are planned to foster cooperation and dialogue between members of the influence program.

Higher education establishments such as Kedge Business School and the Arts et Métiers campus in Aix-en-Provence are also taking part in this collaborative approach by working to provide the education and training that matches the needs of companies and creates more opportunities for young talent.

Jean-Luc Chauvin, who has been serving as the President of Provence Promotion since October 20, 2023, concluded the meeting by rallying the members of the influence program: “We need to strengthen synergies in this territory, and expand our collaborations. If we want to grow, develop, and move from being France’s second capital to Southern Europe’s second capital, we need to work together, share our good ideas, and avoid duplicating the same initiatives. It’s essential to adopt a positive approach to our territory. As top companies and leaders in your fields, you are in contact with partners every day, and you have the power to bring the right people together. If the territory succeeds, so do your companies!"

The meeting was attended by Corinne Orsoni from Euroméditerranée, Céline Lacroix from the Marseille Provence Airport, and François Lasbleiz from the Port of Marseille Fos, who emphasized the impact the territory’s key stakeholders can have when it comes to influencing international investors. They shared concrete examples of recent collaborations with Provence Promotion, notably involving advances in the digital sector, transportation discussions with North American airlines, and industrial projects with India.

* List of members of the Provence Promotion influence program: Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropole, Bouches-du-Rhône Departmental Council, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Aix-Marseille-Provence, Port of Marseille Fos, Marseille Provence Airport,  Euroméditerranée, Provence Tourisme, Aix-Marseille University, Kedge Business School, Arts et Métiers, CMA CGM, Airbus Helicopters, Digital Realty, Crédit Agricole Alpes Provence, TotalEnergies, Pernod Ricard, Free Pro, L'Occitane Group, Orange, EDF, CEPAC, Intercontinental Marseille, and STMicroelectronics.

> If you want to learn more about the influence program in Aix-Marseille, contact Florence Gomez