Investment Grants: Which Requirements Should be Fulfilled?
Since the year 1969 the German government has applied investment grants to improve regional economic development of disadvantaged regions. The support of eligible firms shall enhance its investment activities. Such activities may force a sustainable development of the respective region. One requirement – amongst others – for the grant of this investment support scheme is the firm’s verification of supra-regional sales. The gains resulting from the firms’ export activities lead to additional income for that region, and this stimulates multiplicative (reinforcing) regional income processes. Since the German reunification this instrument has been applied in the new federal states, too. Due to the fact that structural deficits still exist in East Germany investment grants are adopted primarily in the new federal states. Today, some policy decision makers think that the catching-up process of disadvantaged regions is not fast enough. Against this background, the further application of investment grants is discussed controversially. Some criticism tends to the criterion of supra-regional sales. It has been argued that particularly small firms are excluded from this support scheme. However, small firms are considered as key players for regional economic activities. Moreover, firms which are highly integrated in international markets depend on world trade cycles and that might be risky for the respective region. Finally, critics believe that regional actors should be boosted in order to strengthen regional identities in terms of regional buyer-supplier-networks. This article shows that policy decision makers should maintain the criterion of supra-regional sales. Particularly, regions with a loss of inhabitants need gains from supra-regional sales to stabilise their local purchasing power. Otherwise, these regions are strongly dependent on transfer flows stemming from other regions. Beyond that, supra-regional sales indicate the firm’s international competitiveness. Finally, the most important argument for supra-regional sale might be linkages to supra-regional knowledge flows which strongly affect the region’s innovative capabilities.