Aargau Services: Life and Business at their Best – Annelise Alig Anderhalden

Aargau, one of Switzerland's leading high-tech cantons, provides employment for 250,000 people and is home to 30,500 companies. Aargau Services' director for economic promotion, Annelise Alig Anderhalden, tells FDE what makes the region such an attractive base for foreign corporates and the measures her organisation takes to make them feel at home.

What are the main factors behind Aargau's success in attracting leading companies?

Not only is Aargau located in the heart of the most attractive economic region in Switzerland, with political stability, legal certainty and liberal labour laws, but businesses also benefit from low wage costs, tax rates and real estate prices. The region has concentrated high-tech knowledge and expertise, and therefore excellent availability of qualified and skilled staff. The research and networks are in place for top performance, and quality of life is fantastic.

Companies located in Aargau are successful in the long term, thanks to the combination of all these factors. The Credit Suisse Locational Quality Indicator ranks Aargau the third most attractive business location in Switzerland.

What are the longer-term benefits for a company deciding to make the move?

It is with good reason that Aargau has three As in its name: the canton has been awarded the highest possible AAA rating by Standard & Poor's, reflecting its stable financial situation and its strong economy, which boasts high productivity and high income. Only two of the other 25 cantons have that rating.

This favourable starting position allows us to plan well ahead and not only keep the taxes at the same level but look towards further tax reductions, guaranteeing low long-term investment costs and secure planning for investors.

What types of industries and business clusters are particularly prevalent in the canton?

This is a region full of cutting-edge technology. The canton has a long history of energy, electrical engineering, plastics, life sciences, medical technology, mechanical engineering and IT clusters, and all of them continue to grow successfully.

With existing industry largely export-focused, how beneficial is your location and infrastructure from a logistical point of view? 

Aargau's proximity to international markets makes it a strategically attractive location, in the hub of the business centres of Zurich, Basel, Bern and Lucerne, with two international airports close by.

The region also offers dense rail and motorway infrastructure that is superbly linked to the European transport network. Many international distribution partners are based here, offering bonded warehouses, terminals for piggyback transport and other services for the distribution of goods.

How would you describe the quality of the workforce already available in the region?

Employers in Aargau benefit from an above-average percentage of people of working age and a below-average unemployment rate. Leading Swiss research and educational institutions are close by, including the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, the University of Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, the University of Basel, the internationally renowned Paul Scherrer Institute and the Plastics Training and Technology Centre.

Companies therefore profit from the excellent availability of qualified and skilled staff. Furthermore, Aargau has a long tradition of technology and engineering. A high number of employees - twice the Swiss average - work in R&D.

Can you outline how Aargau Services advises and supports companies looking to make the move?

We support entrepreneurs and investors in realising their projects swiftly and with minimal bureaucracy, providing relevant contacts and necessary information. We also advise on appropriate sites and assist with intergovernmental procedures. Our services range from supporting the setting up of branch offices and fostering relations with enterprises in Aargau to advising on approval proceedings and coordinating on inter-cantonal authority matters.

We can also provide advice on taxation law, coordinate with the tax office, support real estate searches, and find research partners and funding, as well as aid relationships with banks and industry associations.