Foundations laid for location Development

Interview with Dr. Michael Heinemann

"The Food Industry Network was, is and will remain a partner of the IBA and of urban redevelopment.” 

Dr. Michael Heinemann managing partner of Weißenfelser Handelsgesellschaft mbH and spokesperson for South Saxony-Anhalt Food Industry Network

The South Saxony-Anhalt Food Industry Network was established in 2005 and has become an important partner in the urban redevelopment of Weißenfels. Did this happen by chance or was it intentional?


Dr. Michael Heinemann: The formation of the network was a result of discussions within the framework of the IBA, in particular the workshop meetings. At first fourteen food industry businesses realised that there is a concentration of the food industry in South Saxony-Anhalt, and it was a logical step to form a network, which could also be a partner for the IBA – an that is exactly how we organised it.

The network is therefore not restricted to the IBA partnership and, as its name implies, not restricted to Weißenfels?

Dr. Michael Heinemann: More than 30 companies from all over South Saxony-Anhalt are now network members. We pursue three main aims: representation of interests, development of resources and the design of infrastructure.

What does that mean in concrete terms?

Dr. Michael Heinemann: As the strongest business sector in Saxony-Anhalt the food industry needs an organisation to represent its interests at state and municipal levels and with regard to public and scientific institutions. It is important for the industry’s development to identify resources that for example the academic world, schools and universities provide and to make them accessible to small and medium-sized companies. The network primarily works together with the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Bernburg which has specialised in the food industry. And businesses strengthen their location by contributing to the development of the infrastructure. At the end of the day, the network’s aim is to improve the competitiveness of the individual businesses.

The keyword “infrastructure” makes the connection to the IBA process very clear. How is the network actually involved?

Dr. Michael Heinemann: It has made an important contribution to the development process and supported it together with the housing sector and with cultural or educational initiatives. We have discussed the development and design of spaces with planners in the “Neustadt Workshops”. The network has been jointly responsible for cultural projects such as the topic of fire damage restoration, organising readings and discussions with people from the businesses. We support sports and the network sponsors the palace festival. We also took part in something highly visible: we have planted trees.

But infrastructure does not just consist of trees and discussions …

Dr. Michael Heinemann: … and we understand the IBA not to be just about building, but something much broader, having an influence on the business, social and cultural sectors. So, for example, a project was planned to create modern accommodation, even new forms of living, for young people – primarily employees of the food industry. We need young, well-trained employees. Together with the chamber of commerce and industry training centre we have set up a course to train industrial master craftsmen in the food industry. This partnership continues with a qualification programme for executives in which we intend to qualify our core staff. All this is part of the infrastructure and benefits from the IBA.

Does the network also contribute to the Duke August Foundation, which teaches pupils basic business skills?

Dr. Michael Heinemann: The Network supports, also financially, this and other educational initiatives. What kind of actual cooperation results from this, for example work placement or sponsorship, is a matter for each company to decide itself. The Network attaches great importance to bundling strengths, but each business can decide for itself where it wishes to participate.

What conclusion do you draw from the IBA process in Weißenfels?

Dr. Michael Heinemann: The IBA has laid good foundations for the further development of the location – the superstructure must now follow. The food industry network was, is and will remain a partner of the IBA and of urban redevelopment. We can be proud of what has been achieved.

Info: Weißenfels

(Municipal Area of 2010)
1989: 43.639
2009: 33.315
2025: 26.140 (Future Prospect)

Municipal Area: 51,6 qkm

IBA-Website of Weißenfels