By Stefanie Claudia Müller

Spain has got a great advantage compared to Germany: It had got the crisis and had to follow a rough austerity policy due to the European intervention in 2012. While the South of Europe went through some harsh reforms because of that and had to calculate with intelligence every investment, Germany was just growing and growing without undergoing any major reform in the social, fiscal or banking systems. The Germans in times of constant growth even managed to cut debts. Now it seems like the South can show the North how to play the future.

Getting smart in Malaga

Malaga was for a longtime just the springboard to Marbella, the Spanish jetset venue. To art lovers it was known for being the hometown of Picasso and its Museum. But the harbour city offers much more than that thanks to a rough crisis they went through. “We had to reinvent us”, says Its international airport flys every day to 22 different destinations in the UK and to 17 cities in Germany. But now it also gets very popular in Scandinavia, not just for tourism, but for working and living. The trip designer Sebastian Abad La Terra is argentinian and runs in Malaga his own company, Eternautas: “We organize individual historical journeys across the world”.
“We were always visited by milliones of tourist every year, but never really as a working destination. That is changing”, reflets Isabel Pascual Villamor from the City Council.

Sebastian lived for a longtime in Sweden where he created a family, but he then decided to live at the Spanish coast: “Malaga has gone through a great change in the last 10 years. It is a hotspot now”. The city was always a popular place for foreign students to study the language and also for Erasmus exchanges, but now especially Norwegians and fins come to Malaga to start a new life there. They already have their schools and churches there. “All the good things from tourism, flight connections etc., help us now to convert the city into an international business hub with sunshine very day”, smiles Daniel Sanz from the international tax advisor GrantThornton. Due to the attractivity of Malaga his office grows constantly in the last years.

Companies like Oracle that opened a hub for Southern Europe in the city work like a bridge for people from the North that prefer to live next to the seaside. The US-company employs 700 people in Malaga. Around Tech companies like Oracle and Dekra, that also has got a quite big delegation in Malaga, start up clusters and innovations parks experienced a revival and Malaga finally got connected.

It is now known for being a center of excellence in the digital industry and here especially in 3-D-Video animation where Spain already got its reputation. The city that can be reached from Madrid with the AVE High speed train in around 2,5 hours. Thanks to that Malaga is becoming more and more international. “You can hear Swedish, Chinese, Russian, Norwegian and French everywhere. And you can tell from how they dressed and move that there are not in Malaga to take the sun, but really for business matters”, says mayor Francisco de la Torre Prados who is running his office already for many years and has lived the change in first person.

Some hard facts about Malaga

Of course not everything is bright in Malaga, although the sky is mostly blue. The region Andalucia is suffering some severe corruption cases, different working mentality and a quite huge shadow economy. There live half a million people in Malaga which means it is still a small city compared to Barcelona or Madrid. It gets a bit tight in summertime with all the tourists and rental cars and the cruisers, but Malaga still offers a very good quality of life. The registered foreign population counts about 45.000 persons. This shall change with the campaigns of the city to attract more foreign capital and reduce the unemployment, officially in 18%. Marc Sanderson, the International Economic Development Director, knows that there is still a long way to go: “In 10 years we concluded a turnaround that we have to consolidate now”.

Malaga is now like they say in the city Marketing campaigns “Open4 Business“, but still it has to work on one some schemes: Spain has to offer better salaries and the mayor has to find a way to stop the rising real estate prices in the city centre. Oracle already admits that they have to pay good salaries to attract international talents and cannot pay Spanish average wages: “A Spanish engineer earns about 30% less than the Europan average.” But this will change, because there is definetely a lack of people in Spain that know how to move and innovate in the new technical world that we have in front of us. “And these people are demanded everywhere. On a longtermn you have to pay for it, these are market rules”, says Sanderson.