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    Interview with Guy Vibourel, President of the FTI

    Foundation for the Industrial Land of Geneva

    Formerly General Manager of Migros-Geneva, then Chairman of its Board of Directors, Guy Vibourel was appointed in December 2019 as Chairman of the Foundation for the Industrial Lands of Geneva (FTI). He is therefore particularly familiar with the Praille-Acacias-Vernets sector in which he has spent a large part of his professional life. Interview with the head of the entity that will have the heavy task of accompanying the relocation of PAV companies called to be moved.

     

    The PAV is huge, the companies numerous, their activities multiple. Where to start?

    From the beginning, so by their census. There are about 1’200 businesses in the PAV. Not all of them have the same future. In fact, we have identified 4 main categories:

    • Businesses that will remain in the PAV, because they will be able to cohabit perfectly next to housing.
    • Businesses that will have to move out of the PAV, because their activity is incompatible in terms of noise, future accessibility, etc.
    • The companies that will be able to move inside the PAV in the sector dedicated to industry (Praille-Ouest).
    • The companies that we could bring into the PAV, because their activity would be essential to the life of the neighborhood. I am thinking in particular of certain service companies.

     

    The most difficult cases will probably be the businesses that will have to leave the site. How do you plan to convince them?

    We will have to convince them that this transfer can represent a real development opportunity and find them a new location that meets their current and future needs. We want to get to know them better so we can make smooth transfers. But we do not yet know what percentage of current companies will have to leave the PAV. This work will be carried out in close collaboration with the PAV Foundation.

     

    But do you have enough space?

    There’s not much room, that’s true, but we’re currently in the process of making a lot of land acquisitions. In particular in the future Cherpines area in Plan-les-Ouates, as well as in the ZIMEYSAVER sector. We are also counting on a densification of industrial zones favouring a mix of activities. We manage about thirty industrial zones.

     

    The FTI does not only deal with the PAV, it also plays many other roles.

    We are a multi-service, multi-activity company. An essential facilitator for the smooth functioning of the industrial ecosystem. Our 35 employees are obviously active on the PAV territory, but also in the so-called “Peripheral” Industrial Zones. They are also involved in the canton’s sustainable development strategy, for everything related to energy savings, the use of raw materials and the development of inter-company collaboration. We manage real estate in our own name and on behalf of the State of Geneva and the communes. We plan and implement facilities for industrial and artisanal development zones.

    Finally, we are a specialist in the management of land and buildings.

    Finally, we are the canton’s armed wing to encourage companies that are already established or that want to set up in Industrial Zones to develop sustainable practices by pooling services or infrastructures such as distance heating, for example. As part of the Canton’s industrial policy, we also grant building rights to companies and decide on their eligibility to set up in industrial zones.

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    On the subject of land acquisitions and surface rights, has FTI revised its rates upwards?

    Our pricing policy is reviewed every two years or so, to keep up with economic developments. We have to have a framed and bounded flexibility. Industrial zones are opening up to new activities, but it’s a measured opening, by way of a waiver. We need to constantly find the balance so that traditional industries, without high added value but generating a lot of jobs and essential to the proper functioning of the economy, can also remain in the zones.

     

    Is FIT working in a standalone mode, or also with private parties?

    Because of our multiple activities, we absolutely have to work with private parties. For example, we are property owners, and to set up real estate operations, we use the business expertise of external consultants. FTI is a key player in industrial real estate, which must gain visibility.

     

    How do you manage the FTI board, which is mainly made up of political representatives, when you have now run only private companies?

    I am totally transparent with my Board, and it takes listening and patience. I want to be as close as possible to the top management, which we just changed. But we still need to get results: out of the 35 million or so in turnover, we pay back a little over 5 million to the state every year

     

    Article to be found in the CI Mag n°11 (page 60)

     

     

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