As part of a branding initiative launched by the City of Lugano, aimed at identifying the strengths and the weaknesses of the city, as well as the needs and desires of the people who live and do business here, NetComm Suisse President gave his time to answer questions about Lugano and its future. Here's what he replied.
What is your favourite spot? And what is your favourite neighbourhood in the Lugano region?
Lugano offers so many choices in terms of natural beauty that it’s difficult to select just one. With the mountains towering above us on the one hand; the pristine blue of the lake on the other. The lakeside view of the Lanchetta is one I particularly admire, as is being in the calm surroundings of the church Santa Maria del Sasso at nearby Morcote.
What are the strengths of Lugano?
You can feel the strong points of Lugano as you arrive: the cleanliness and the characteristically Swiss organization. I would say it’s location is also one of its strengths: not just for the stunning lake, but moreover for its equidistance between Milan to the south (so important for our fashion industry) and Zurich to the north, which is obviously an economic powerhouse. Beyond this, I should also mention its identity, its “soul” which is this complementary fusion of latin creativity and Swiss German sense of order, making Lugano a vibrant and rewarding place to live and work.
What are the challenges for Lugano?
Economically there are challenges around the world right now, with Lugano having some which are particular to its situation. The old economic world order is now really at a crisis point, with widescale disruption – but also opportunity: how we respond to that will govern our future quality of life – even though, Lugano is quite well placed to seize the advantages of these developments.
Given the changes to banking secrecy there is, of course, no longer the growth created by the banking industry that there once was and at the same time, we are also seeing strong competition from northern Italy. This has impacted heavily on local shops, businesses and hotels: especially those dependent on tourism. Furthermore, for those of us who live here, house prices are rather expensive, partly because of how attractive the city is to those from abroad with strong incomes.
What do you miss in the Lugano region?
For sure, I feel a Swiss Innovation Park would be a powerful economic driver. Zurich has it, Basel, Suisse Romande – Lugano seems an obvious choice to host one, potentially focused on lifestyle/tech. I think this would send a powerful signal relating to our economic position. I’d like to see Lugano attracting big businesses, driving growth and employment as well as a new flow of international managers and entrepreneurs.
At the same time, I hope to see a more consolidated push to inspire, encourage and support home-grown entrepreneurs and businesses. That’s easily within reach and would help to show those outside that we are determined to grow and succeed in the new economy which is taking shape today.
In which direction should Lugano develop further?
Lugano must be the Lifestyle Hub of Europe. In terms of location, it has everything: outstanding natural beauty, it has its Fashion Valley, home to over 80 top brands, it is the meeting point between the money and digital strength of Zurich and the creativity and fashion heritage of Milan: it’s fantastically connected, it’s Swiss: enjoying all the infrastructural benefits, educational legacy, multi-disciplinary and multi-lingual skills that this brings, as well as an enviable reputational strength.
As such a Lifestyle Hub, I think Lugano would attract more corporations and would also encourage young start ups and scale ups which would engender a virtuous cycle of job creation, economic growth and wellbeing. We have a sophisticated and mature financial sector here – I’d like to see more of that money being unlocked as investment and with new, cutting edge companies springing up. This cannot happen in a vacuum of course, you need greater skills development and education as well as ancillary services – and again, Lugano is extremely well-placed to develop in all these regards.
Based on your expertise what is your advice for the future of Lugano?
To me it’s exceedingly clear: make us a smart city. That means working to support and create the infrastructure, the education system, the fiscal environment and the opportunity to thrive in the new economic environment.
Let’s focus on bringing big, international businesses, especially from within the ICT sector such as Facebook, PayPal, Google, Accenture etc. always remembering, that we want to the next globally-scaled tech giant to be a home-grown, Lugano company!
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