Matthias Martiné knew what entrepreneurship meant from an early age: his parents ran a shoe shop and an orthopedic shoemaker’s workshop in Groß-Gerau, where Martiné also worked. Perhaps that is the reason why he opted for dual training instead of the university. The banker has been working for Volksbank Darmstadt / Südhessen for more than 30 years, has been responsible for corporate customer business on the board for 18 years and is therefore in close contact with entrepreneurs in the region. he knows the challenges that the economy in southern Hesse is confronted with. He allows this experience to flow into his voluntary work at the Darmstadt Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which also covers the Bergstrasse and Groß-Gerau districts. Martiné has been involved in the Chamber of Industry and Commerce since 2009, he became its vice-president in 2014, and has been at its head since January 2019. A milestone in his term of office so far is the “model for responsible, trustworthy business people”, with which the IHK wants to modernize the concept of the honorable businessman. Reliability, interest in sustainable success, cosmopolitanism and tolerance are described as the qualities that responsible business people should strive for, as well as responsibility towards the region and solidarity with one another.
Mr. Martiné, how is the economy in southern Hesse doing?
Differently. No surprise: like elsewhere, the industry is well positioned and fortunately we have a strong industrial base that is also very export-oriented. Two out of three products go abroad. And in China and the USA things are now fine again. That stabilizes the companies here. On the other hand, there are businesses, some of which have been closed for a year, hotels, restaurants, large parts of the retail trade, the event industry, and tourism. After all, there is now an opening perspective.
Does it prove to be the fact that the chamber district has a very diversified economic structure, with Darmstadt as its center, which is strongly oriented towards administration?
Yes, and the internationality also helps. In times of crisis in particular, we benefit from the resilience of this structure.
How can this economic area be strengthened?
We have a strong focus on software, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. These are issues of the future and we are counting on the federal and state governments to support them, especially research. Because we have both here, research and development, for example in the universities, in the Fraunhofer institutes, but also in the manufacturing companies. On the one hand, ideas from science can be put into practice in the production of companies, and on the other hand, the companies also have an impact on the universities when they say what they need. This interaction makes us strong.
But your chamber district also includes the hard-fighting automotive industry, such as Opel in Rüsselsheim.
At Automotive, we have a major transformation ahead of us. Here I rely on the innovative strength of the companies. For this, however, we need less regulations and prohibitions, rather the creative potential in the company must be released. We have to be open to technology. Unfortunately, the political discussion is somewhat narrowed in this regard.
How does business and local politics work together?
We have a good relationship in our chamber district, even if we sometimes have different positions. The closer politics is to reality, the easier it is to work together. The town halls and district offices know that a well-functioning economy is essential for the prosperity of the people in the region.
Does the region feel part of the Rhine-Main or Rhine-Neckar area?