At the beginning of May the Schaumburg Business Association participated in a Schaumburg Sister Cities Association’s outbound exchange trip to Schaumburg, Germany. The two-week experience gave the SBA unique insight and perspective on the global business community and the shared challenges and concerns between the two Schaumburgs.
Schaumburg, Germany is located Northern portion of Germany only 30-minute drive from Hannover – the State capitol. Made up of five large villages representing around 80,000 inhabitants Schaumburg, Germany’s economy is a mix of historical tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. While much of Schaumburg, Germany is rural, small town in contrast to Schaumburg, Illinois’ suburban, “edge city” the striking observation was that there were more similarities than differences.
The intensive outbound exchange provided the SBA a unique understanding on the role of politics, government, and business and their difference and similarities compared to America. Below are the thoughts captured during the Sister Cities trip:
- Concern with urban migration – Due to Schaumburg, Germany’s geographical proximity to Hanover and Hamburg the businesses face the same challenge of hiring and retaining talented young professionals. They compete against the appeal of a big city even when the cost of living is lower. Similarly, leaders are noticing a suburban migration as Millennials are starting their families – much like here in America.
- Elusive soft skills – A common complaint between business executives in either Schaumburg is that young graduates lack the necessary business soft skills to be successful. The regular issue identified during the Outbound Exchange was the attachment to cell phones and a preference to work when it is convenient. As much as Schaumburg businesses experience this challenge it is not isolated to America it is a global generation challenge.
- Skills gap and talent pipeline shortage – Business growth and sales continue to be strong and one challenge faced – across all industries – is the availability of trained, and interested, talent. Besides from dealing with an urban migration the businesses of Schaumburg, Germany struggle to create awareness of their positions and industries. Just like in Schaumburg, Illinois far too few students and parents are aware of rewarding careers available in the skills sector of the economy.
- Apprehension of the economy’s future – While many of the businesses noted historical sales performance one underlying theme was consistent – uncertainty in the duration in this market. A combination of global trade doubt and shifting geopolitical relationships have given some business executives pause on their business planning. This includes abstaining from the purchase of major capital equipment and facility expansions. This hesitation has been recognized locally with many business leaders have cited a recent momentary slow-down as cause for this concern.
Schaumburg, Illinois and Schaumburg, Germany share a common ancestry, culture, and based on the Schaumburg Sister Cities’s Outbound Exchange, similar outlooks on business. While there is noticeable difference that are unique to each location much of the insights gained during the trip were of a common variety that the Schaumburg Business Association tracks on a regular basis. Understanding that the local impediments to Schaumburg’s economy are not isolated but global is reassuring and confirms that the “grass is not always greener” and that these challenges are persistent regardless if your address is Schaumburg, Illinois or Schaumburg, Germany.
Posted on May, 24
by Kyle Schulz filed under