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The industrial zone in the north of the city was set up to boost the city´s industrial development.

The turning point in the city´s industrialization process came with the decision by American roller bearing manufacturer Timken to set up their new European production facilities in Colmar. The opening of the Timken plant in May 1959 showed that Colmar was ready to play its role in a genuinely modern industrial society. Fifty four European cities and towns had been in competition for Timken and the company´s directors had travelled some 300,000 kilometres in search of the ideal location.  The extraordinary availability of the Mayor of Colmar and of his associates, their hearty welcome as well as the quality of their file surely contributed to Timken's decision. Things started to move forward apace and over 30 more companies were to set up in Colmar over the next 10 years, thereby creating some 4,000 new jobs and taking the city out of the single-industry syndrome that had almost resulted disastrous. The industrial zone was extended eastwards and to the south, with some 500 hectares available for industrial development. A wide variety of companies were then working within the area, from a number of different sectors, including textile, mechanical engineering, public works, agribusiness, earthenware and ceramics, pharmaceuticals and electronics.

In 1960, there was the opening of the Colmar-Neuf-Brisach port on the Rhine. The new facilities, operated by the Chamber of Commerce meant that Middle Alsace was now ideally placed to take advantage of its geographical location and to develop closer ties with both the rest of the European Community and farther afield. 

The growth in industry also had a highly salutary effect on the city´s finances, with business taxes now accounting for some 60 % of local tax revenue.

By 1980, the city´s northern industrial zone had managed to attract 66 companies, employing over 7,000 people.

Famous people of Colmar

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