Essential information for investors

POPULATION

Surface: 57 890 sq. km (22 352 sq. miles),
Population (year 2007): 5 177 000,
Population density: 89.43 inh/sq.km.,
Population growth from 1997 to 2007: + 7.62%,
Number of urban areas of more than 100 000 people: 10,
Population under 29 years old: 37.2%.

ECONOMY

Gross Domestic Product (year 2007): 116 515 Million euros,
Employment (year 2007): 1 348 156,
Employment growth (from 1998 to 2006): + 20.9%,
Unemployment rate: 6%,
Number of days lost on strike (for 1000 employees): 20.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Number of airports 16,
Number of airports with regular international flights 5 (see details below),
Number of ports and marinas 53,
Number of commercial ports 8,
Length of coastline 818 kms.

Airport information

There are five airports in the region with international destinations.
Click on each airport to be taken straight to the official English-language website;
Angers (Southampton)
La Rochelle (Edinburgh, Leeds, Dublin)
Nantes (numerous destinations in UK and Ireland)
Poitiers (Birmingham, London)
Angoulême (London)

Additional information

Historically, what kind of industries were big here?

The types of manufacturing-oriented industries that dominated in this region included leather, shoe making, ship and boat building, food, automotive, wood, household equipment, plastics and rubber, machine and equipment, metallurgy, transport industries. Some of them continue to decrease(leather and shoe making), others are still flourishing.
Important industries in the region, with percentage showing size of industry in relation to rest of France:

  • Wood industry (14.4%),
  • Food-processing (13.2%),
  • Ship and boat building (44.8%),
  • Aeronautics (8.6%),
  • Railroad construction (11.7%),
  • Automotive (8.1%),
  • Leather and shoe making (24.8%),
  • Household equipment (16.6%),
  • Plastics and rubber industry (12.2%),
  • Packaging (11.2%),
  • Machine and equipment manufacturing (11.8%),
  • Metallurgy and metalworking (9%),
  • Electrical and electronic equipment: (8.8%).

Most of all, the industry in Western France has remained strong, while in other parts of the country it has declined by 10% over the last 10 years.
In general, industry in the region has shown a steady rise at the quality, value-added level.
Western France is also more secure than other parts of the country and it has been attracting (at the rate of one industrial position for two tertiary positions) advanced service functions for the last 10 years.
New industries drawn to the area include software design and development, audit and consulting, finance, banking and insurance, call centres, transportation and logistics, R&D, engineering and innovation centres.

What economic strengths does the west of France have now?

The area enjoys a good and steady economic and demographic growth. It is the only region with both an exceptional employment growth (+21% from 1998 to 2007 in Western France, while + 16% in France) and an exceptional population growth (+7.6% while +5.8 in France).
The excellent ranking of Western France’s cities in national studies such as ‘Where is the Best Place to Live in France’, etc, is a sign that the centre of wealth and employment is moving towards the west.
An example was the 2004 Time magazine study ranking Nantes highly and adding that it was the ‘most livable city in all of Europe’.
Generally speaking, the region benefits from competitive costs, a reliable workforce, entrepreneurship, quality infrastructures, high productivity, proximity to lucrative markets and last, but not least, outstanding quality of life.

Major population centres

These is a dense network of medium-sized cities (Angers, Laval, Le Mans, La Roche sur Yon, Angoulême, La Rochelle, Niort, Poitiers) and a large urban area, competing at European level, being the conurbation of Nantes/Saint-Nazaire with almost one million inhabitants (Nantes urban area being more than 700,000 and Saint Nazaire urban area totally around 180,000 inhabitants).

Foreign investment

Foreign investment in Western France accounts for 83,100 jobs on 552 production and R&D sites from more than 408 international investors (from 25 different countries).
British and Irish companies employ around 8000 in the region, representing about 10% of the foreign-owned firms and covering more than 50 sites.
Major names include HSBC, Pilkington, Carglass Assistance, The Phone House and Steelwave.

Is the education system good for business?

In 2006-2007, there were a total of 152,565 higher education students enrolled in management and engineering studies in western France.
Key figures:

  • six universities,
  • 23 Engineering Schools,
  • 19 business and management schools,
  • 8,600 students are trained for engineering graduation (official engineer diploma),
  • 5,000 students are trained in business and management schools in 2006-2007.

Also in 2006-2007, there were 13,785 vocational training certificate holders (first level of technical training) which represents about 10% of French holders and 41,493 apprenticeship trainees in vocational education (with combined in-class and on-the-job training) which represents 11.2% of apprenticeship trainees in France.

Click here for additional business information on western France.

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