An answer to the metropolitan challenges with a comprehensive view of an area encompassed by 36 municipalities

The Agency

The Economic Development Agency is the fruit of a consensus among the localities in the metropolitan area as to how to advance their efforts to make the region more competitive.

The Agency is a governmental body serving the Barcelona metropolitan area. Its main purpose is to address the area's overarching economic and job creation needs. The institution's activities focus on promoting innovation, reindustrialisation and internationalisation, as well as on driving investment, improving the job market in the area's localities and lending support to local entities in their economic development efforts.

The basis of the Agency's work lies in a strategy shared by all the metropolitan area's local authorities. The Agency's aim is to assume a leading role in the Barcelona metropolitan region's public and private economic promotion efforts.

Much like similar agencies in other large European metropolitan areas, the Agency works to respond to social and economic demands, to boost competitiveness, to improve transport, to ensure sustainable growth, to protect the environment and, above all, to enhance citizens' quality of life.

The Agency's broadly shared vision makes it the ideal institution to support and coordinate the economic promotion activities of local governments and to forge ties with other government bodies, as well as with universities, the business community and research institutes. The Agency's more global perspective also opens up the possibility of taking part in joint projects with other European metropolitan areas.

  • Background

    The Barcelona area is under pressure from many of the same far-reaching changes and transformations that are affecting large urban areas around the world. Some of these challenges are associated with the new socioeconomic and geopolitical context of globalisation, while others are connected to the evolution of the country itself or to the emergence of new risks, including those emerging from increased inequality and social exclusion. The Economic Development Agency is a metropolitan governance tool designed to meet some of these challenges on the municipal and local levels.

    The Agency was created to serve as an effective mechanism to respond to the economic and social pressures faced by the metropolitan area. In light of the complex and far-reaching nature of the challenges faced by metropolitan cities today, there is broad agreement on the need for governmental bodies that can transcend administrative boundaries between localities to more accurately reflect the reality of larger de facto cities.

    In the current socioeconomic climate, metropolitan-scale government structures have a key role to play in boosting an area's competitiveness, ensuring sustainable growth, improving transport, protecting the environment, and, in general terms, enhancing citizens' quality of life. For the AMB, then, there was a critical need for an entity that could confront economic and labour market challenges from an overarching, metropolitan perspective.

    The Agency represents an opportunity for those involved in economic promotion activities in the area's municipalities to forge connections and enter into closer collaboration with other metropolitan and regional institutions, including higher levels of public administration, universities, businesses and research institutes. It also serves as a forum to work together with other metropolitan areas outside the country.

    In order to diversify their economies and offer improved job opportunities and a higher standard of living to their residents, metropolitan areas must lend their support to innovation in a number of different spheres. They must create a favourable business environment and strive to meet the population's employment, employability and job training needs, while at the same time taking steps to avoid the exclusion of vulnerable segments of society. The Agency is committed to supporting the work of the area's municipalities to achieve all of these ends.

  • Legal and administrative framework

    The founding of the Economic Development Agency was possible thanks to a number of legal and administrative provisions, and it was the fruit of a series of strategic planning processes undertaken by stakeholders from around the territory over the past few years.

    Law 31/2010, of August 3, on the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. This law gives the AMB the power to act in the area of economic development, specifically to promote economic activity and job and business creation and to engage in strategic planning. Article 14 establishes that the AMB can act to "promote economic activity and job and business creation in the industrial, commercial, service and tourism sectors".

    The AMB's Metropolitan Strategic Reflection (REM) report (2015). This document identifies the area's sustainable development priorities,. It sets out a series of objectives and proposals related to productivity, reindustrialisation and the knowledge economy and calls for "the creation of an open platform/system [bringing together] the existing services offered by the metropolitan area's various administrative bodies and stakeholders".

    The 2015-2019 AMB governing pact . Sets out a metropolitan action plan for "the promotion of economic activity in the form of supporting and coordinating economic regeneration initiatives and other projects related to attracting talent and investments, and to the proximity economy and the economy for common good".

    The 2015-2019 AMB Metropolitan Action Plan . Objective 2.2 of the document calls for "a plan to regenerate the economic fabric [via support for] reindustrialisation…, SMEs, microbusinesses, new entrepreneurs and innovation throughout the metropolitan area". Section 2.2.1 features a call for "a territorial programme to address the needs for regeneration and innovation in the [area's] productive economy, as well as the needs for infrastructure, human capital, innovation and knowledge promotion". Objective 2.3 is to "create and operate a Metropolitan Economic Development Agency in coordination with the stakeholders in the territory". The objective further calls for:

    • 2.3.1. "Defining areas of activity for this future Agency so that they complement the currently existing local services, particularly in the areas of internationalisation, attracting investments, intermunicipal coordination, growth and innovation strategies, and transfer of knowledge between local administrative bodies, all while bearing in mind the needs and sensitivities of the area's stakeholders".
    • 2.3.2. "Actively participating in the promotion of Barcelona's brand and helping to expand it around the metropolitan area".
    • 2.3.3. "Coordinating the various economic development and promotion activities and projects around the metropolitan area with a commitment to sustainability and the minimisation of the environmental impact".

    The AMB Economic Regeneration and Reindustrialisation Committee (2018). The Agency's priorities emerged from the work of the Economic Regeneration and Reindustrialisation Committee, a group that brought together 400 participants (elected officials, municipal technicians, trade union representatives, business owners, experts and professionals, social and economic stakeholders from the territory, representatives of universities and technology and research institutes…) to work for almost two years on ways to further the metropolitan area's economic development. The group called for a strategy based on making improvements to economic activity estates, promoting innovation, technology and knowledge transfer, strengthening the sectors with the greatest industrial potential and added value, helping to develop human capital, ensuring that infrastructure needs are met and that a cutting-edge logistics network is put into place, defining new urban planning tools, and improving sustainability.

    AMB Metropolitan Council Accord of 27/02/2018. Grants approval to the creation of the Metropolitan Economic Development Agency.

    AMB Decree 23/2018. Establishes the functions of the Metropolitan Economic Development Agency.

  • Aims

    The Metropolitan Economic Development Agency is a new metropolitan entity whose purpose is to spearhead internationalisation programmes and promote investments, stimulate innovation and technological development, support businesses and job creation and boost emerging local economies.

    From its very start, the Agency has been committed to viewing and approaching issues from a metropolitan perspective and to seeking out areas where it can reach and implement agreements, especially with the area's municipal governments, but also with other entities involved in economic development affecting the region.

    The Agency's role is to serve the 36 municipalities in the area and social and economic stakeholders by helping to promote an economy that is competitive, innovative and ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

  • Functions

    The functions of the Metropolitan Economic Development Agency are set out in AMB Decree 23/2018:

    1. To institute a programme to support the international expansion of the metropolitan area's economic and business activities, taking advantage of opportunities for synergy and collaboration or cooperation with other public bodies and entities, businesses and local governments.
    2. To participate in marketing Barcelona as a brand and to include the localities in the metropolitan area of Barcelona in these efforts.
    3. To establish a comprehensive metropolitan-level approach to driving investment, a way of working that encompasses the search for investments, taking inventory of resources and assets, programmes to attract and retain investment, and projects to be agreed upon by the area's municipalities.
    4. To promote metropolitan economic and social innovation activities and projects to enhance the capacities of the local authorities to provide support in these areas, and to promote actions taken to support social innovation, start-ups and entrepreneurs.
    5. To establish a forum to coordinate projects with universities, companies, centres of excellence and municipalities, with the aim of furthering economic regeneration and implementing research and innovation projects.
    6. To lend support to reindustrialisation and economic regeneration activities throughout the metropolitan area, to assist in territorial planning and management of economic activity estates (PAEs), to help strengthen the sectors with the greatest industrial potential and added value, to champion strategic and cutting-edge sectors capable of generating employment, and to foster entrepreneurship and the creation of synergies within the territory, including in industry 4.0 and the circular economy sector.
    7. To coordinate and lend support to local authorities in their economic promotion activities in order to help them provide better services to companies and entrepreneurs, facilitate the exchange of experiences and create a network to communicate good practices to facilitate the consolidation of the range of existing municipal initiatives.
    8. To coordinate and lend support to metropolitan businesses and to participate in the promotion of the tourism sector, creating a forum for the exchange of experiences and a network to communicate good practices to facilitate the consolidation of the range of existing municipal initiatives.
    9. To maintain and improve the systems of online information on economic activities in the metropolitan area in order to better provide data to investors, businesses, municipalities and citizens (including a real estate website, a search engine for services, data on the characteristics of industrial and business parks and any other online resources that may appear for this purpose).
    10. To promote a cooperative, social and solidarity-based economy, the collaborative economy and green food production, all on the local and metropolitan scale, with a special focus on measures and programmes aimed at creating innovative social and technological initiatives and projects in order to reinforce the local economic fabric and bring it into line with the latest innovations.
    11. To develop and implement a new metropolitan-scale approach, with the full participation of local authorities, to the management of the labour market, making use of new tools to adapt the processes of sharing employment information, employment guidance, job searches, and job placement to the changing realities of contemporary work, and to better meet the needs of the business community, with plans to be made jointly with educational institutions, companies and local governments.
    12. To strive to facilitate a commitment by socioeconomic stakeholders to active policies that promote economic development and create jobs.
  • Scope, programmes and projects
    Corporative image for Scope, programmes and projects
  • Informative publications


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