Employment in Sophia: the disastrous effect of the property business shortage
Whereas the growth was exceptional in 1999, the sophipolitan advance rate collapsed by a half: only 1,000 jobs in 1999 versus 2,000 in 1998 and 1997.
This year many people have noticed that Sophia Antipolis did not give the number of jobs created last year. None celebration for the last year results. It was only said that 5,000 jobs had been created in 3 years. Why? Because the creation of jobs was about 2,000 in 1997 and in 1998 and only about 1,000 in 1999. Nevertheless 1999, which was the launching year for the new economy, the year of the start-ups boom, would have logically brought a little advance in Sophia employment. Why this slowdown paradoxical to the economic resumption: the property business shortage from mid-1999.21,535 jobs on December 31st'99The 1999 statistics: at the end of the year 1999, there were 21,535 jobs and 1,193 corporate names through the technopole versus 20,531 jobs and 1,164 corporate names in 1998. The growth was thus of 1,004 jobs (+ 4.9%) and of 29 corporate names (+ 2.5%). The SAEM (Société d'Aménagement d'Economie Mixte) which draws up the balance sheets each year, has remarked the leaving of 186 firms (1,260 jobs). 'These departures were compensated for with 223 new corporate names representing 1,200 jobs, Gérard Passera, the SAEM manager underlines. The employment growth came from firms already settled on the site.The heavy departures occurred in the Saint-Bernard area (Vallauris district), which lost between 300 and 400 jobs (Direct Mille, a mailing firm which left and settled in Carros and which represented 120 jobs). Other recorded 'lost': the collapse of FDM Pharma (120 jobs lost during the first three months of 1999), the leaving of Dow Corning (60 people) and an important restructuring at Schneider Electric (former Télémécanique) with 140 people who left because of a social plan.Put back projects of developmentIn Gérard Passera's viewpoint, the property business shortage did not prevent new firms from settling. 'But it has checked the movement. The firms in the park which are the biggest jobs suppliers have put back their development projects according to premises availability. In 1998, when it was said that there had been 2,000 supplementary jobs, it meant that there had been 3,000 engagements since departures had also been recorded. In 1999 there were less engagements.'However, the last plots in Sophia have been taken. Thus the 'businesses village', bad adapted, which had remained unused for eight years at the beginning of the Bouillides Road, was rented out to Trader.com that installed 50 offices. Big firms are playing musical chairs: for example, Amadeus, Schneider are trying to gather together premises sometimes scattered because of no other solutions. Some are looking for premises for months, like Opt(e)way which lives packed into the Vintas business center and would like to move to 7 to 8,00m² premises. Some start-ups have found another solution like Respublica.fr which has settled about 40 people in a wide villa in Mougins.Even if some works have begun (it takes time to build!), this situation will keep on being during at least one year. It is certainly something which is going to be bad for the 2000 sophipolitan employment figures.