Provence Promotion is working with the prestigious États de la France conference to boost the influence of Aix-Marseille

Provence Promotion is working with the prestigious États de la France conference to boost the influence of Aix-Marseille
Philippe Stéfanini, Managing Director of Provence Promotion, speaks at the Palais d'Iéna during the 17th edition of the Etats de la France.
17 November 2022 / invest in provence

Exceptional opportunity to present recommendations for French economic attractiveness that arose from the Aix-Marseille forum

Every year, the Cercle des États de la France conference brings together top executives from multinational companies present in France to assess the country’s economic attractiveness and produce recommendations to encourage more international investment. For the first time in 2022, three major French economic development agencies – Nord France Invest based in Lille, Aderly based in Lyon, and Provence Promotion based in Marseille – were invited to take part in the process.

This year’s États de la France unfolded in three phases: business leaders had meetings with French ministers at the Ministry of Economics and Finance in Paris, then three regional economic forums were held in Aix-Marseille, Lyon, and Lille, and, finally, the main États de la France conference took place on November 15 in Paris. This final conference presented the ensemble of recommendations on key issues such as innovation, reindustrialization, the green transition, and attracting talent. Provence Promotion CEO Philippe Stéfanini spoke at the November 15 conference to share the recommendations that emerged from the economic forum in Aix-Marseille and to outline possible methods for attracting more international companies to France.

In the latest EY attractiveness survey on foreign direct investment (FDI), France was the most attractive country in Europe for international investors, with a total of 1222 projects welcomed in 2021. This is the third consecutive year that France has been ranked first, but business and political leaders agree there is still room to increase international investments.

The aim of the annual États de la France conference, which is held at the Palais d’Iéna in Paris, is to assess the expectations of international companies based in France. These multinationals account for 25% of industrial jobs in France and 1/3 of the country’s exports. Taking into account the meetings at the Ministry of Economics and Finance and the economic forums held in the regions, more than 60 major companies took part in the process, including Xerox, Lenovo, Henkel, BASF, GlaxoSmithKline France, Otis, Janssen France, Siemens, and Kone. These companies, along with political and media organizations, participated in four round tables at the November 15 conference:

  • France: A land of innovation and excellence
  • Supporting the industrial transformation and reindustrialization of our territories
  • How to make the green transition a driver for investment
  • Talent, employability, and inclusion to strengthen economic attractiveness

Among the companies present at the final États de la France conference in Paris were Air Products, ABB Group, and Salesforce, three international companies that Provence Promotion had already worked with at the Aix-Marseille economic forum.

Because the regional economic development agencies are a primary contact for international investors, Provence Promotion, Nord France Invest, and Aderly were tasked with overseeing the regional economic forums and were invited to present summaries of the recommendations that were collected in their territories.

Provence Promotion’s role in the États de la France contributes to the agency’s influence program, which it runs with the major developers, institutions, local authorities, and a dozen emblematic companies located in the Aix-Marseille-Provence metro area.*

Aix-Marseille business leaders give feedback on French economic attractiveness

For the past two years, the États de la France has fostered greater involvement across the country by supporting economic forums in the French regions. In this context, on September 15, 2022, Provence Promotion brought together a panel of a dozen decision-makers from international companies for a forum in Aix-Marseille to debate the attractiveness of France in terms of talent, digital transformation, and decarbonization while addressing the central question of “Can international companies bypass capital cities?”

For employers, quality education opportunities are required to attract top international talent. With this in mind, Aix-Marseille has undertaken several projects to welcome these talents and their families. An international school will soon be built in Marseille in the Euroméditerranée business district. Named after Jacques Chirac, it will offer multilingual education to more than 2100 students from primary school to high school starting in 2024. This is an enormous step forward when you consider that only one such establishment is built every ten years in France!

Furthermore, as a response to the challenges of digital transformation and the shortage of talent in the technology sector, France has committed to training 400 000 people in digital professions. In Aix-Marseille, 20 000 people will be trained over the next five years thanks to a new range of alternative and more inclusive campuses such as thecamp in Aix-en-Provence and La Plateforme in Marseille. These campuses can provide flexible programs that can be adapted to the job market and the needs of specific companies. It emerged during the Aix-Marseille economic forum that major tech companies such as Salesforce and Google are calling for precisely this type of educational infrastructure.

Due to political changes, notably in the United Kingdom and China, France also has an opportunity to attract additional talent because of expatriates who want to return to their country of origin.

Digital and green transitions: two huge opportunities for a metro area with port facilities

As a leading industrial and port zone, Aix-Marseille-Provence is also preparing for future growth by ensuring best-in-class internet connectivity that is adapted to the growing use of digital technology (Aix-Marseille is #7 in the global ranking for internet hubs). The metro area is also committed to expanding sources of energy by paving the way for the production of new technologies (green hydrogen, photovoltaics, offshore wind power, etc.).

At the forefront of the decarbonization efforts in France, the Marseille-Fos basin is attracting investments and innovations from major multinational companies. A green hydrogen industry is being structured with large-scale projects in the port area, such as H2V, Hynovera in Martigues, and Masshylia, which is supported by TotalEnergies and Engie at the La Mède site outside of Marseille.In conjunction with the region’s industrial sector, Provence Promotion has emphasized these priorities in its new roadmap to accelerate the green transition. The agency is actively encouraging international companies to set up their green energy demonstration projects in Aix-Marseille.

CMA CGM is meeting the challenges of decarbonizing the global maritime sector with commitments, such as its €1.5 billion fund for cleaner energies and its new Tangram sustainable logistics training center to ensure the development of cutting-edge expertise in the metro area. Tangram will also house a branch of the French maritime institute MEET2050, which aims to bring together industry, research centers, and academics to accelerate the green transition of the maritime sector.

In many areas, regional metro areas can be more agile in welcoming international business investment. The États de la France was an opportunity for Provence Promotion to demonstrate this. The agency is now seeking to remain a long-term working relationship with the Cercle des États de la France and will remain dedicated to attracting international companies to France.

 * List of the members of the influence program: Port of Marseille Fos, Marseille Provence Airport, Euroméditerranée, Aix-Marseille University, KEDGE Business School, CMA CGM, Airbus Helicopters, Digital Realty, Crédit Agricole Alpes Provence, TotalEnergies, Pernod Ricard, L’OCCITANE Group, Orange, EDF, ArcelorMittal, and STMicroelectronics.