Founded in 1981, BABEG’s history is closely related to the parliamentary discussions in the 1960s. Back then the Austrian Parliament put promoting economic activity on the agenda of the Austrian State for the first time.
It was January 1980 when an agreement between the federal and regional authorities in Carinthia was published in the Federal Law Gazette. Agreed between the Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky (Social Democratic Party) and the Governor of Carinthia Leopold Wagner (Social Democratic Party) on 11th September 1979, it revolves around strengthening the economy by setting up additional companies in the industrial and commercial sector. Disadvantages experienced by Carinthia due to its economic, cultural and ethnic (sic!) peripheral position should be minimised.
A Marshall Plan for Carinthia
Back then the Republic of Austria and the Province of Carinthia provided the share capital of 200 million shillings, or 50% of BABEG respectively. A substantial amount, and it was only possible thanks to the help of Europe and the US. Without any international support programme such as the European Recovery Programme (ERP) – better known as the Marshall Plan – such an amount would have been unthinkable.
To act swiftly, the authority to make decisions on how to use the money was handed over to the Province of Carinthia. Monitoring to ensure the funds were used in line with regulations was carried out by the Ministry of Public Economy and Transport – today better known as the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit).
BABEG’s remit was laid down in the B-VG 15 agreement and since 1979 it has been tasked with promoting the setting up of new industrial and commercial companies in Carinthia. Any project is deemed suitable as long as it is not connected to the tourism industry and its size does not exceed the financial possibilities of the company.
The economic, cultural and ethnic peripheral location of Carinthia no longer exists. Austria and its southern neighbours are in the European Union, meaning that Carinthia has moved into the heart of Europe.
Attracting Businesses as a Bonus
In the 1990s BABEG’s remit was expanded and the management changed. Subsidies handed to the industry as tax cuts and grants for each new job created are not the only way to create employment. That is also possible by establishing new industrial and technology parks and business incubators.
In the ‘border town of Völkermarkt’ – a phrase from the 1980s – the decision was made not to construct barracks, but rather an industrial park. This decision was implemented by the Völkermarkter Industriegroßgesellschaft (VIP), at that time a subsidiary that was wholly owned by BABEG.
Further Education and Training
Creating jobs in Austria not only means promoting industry, but also research, education and training. Shifting the focus of the University of Klagenfurt from arts to engineering and creating engineering-focused secondary schools (HTLs), the University of Applied Sciences and arts-focused secondary schools (Bundesgymnasium) were all such moves aimed at changing the emphasis of education in the province.
This fundamental attitude lies at the core of BABEG. The company promotes the creation of more education and training opportunities in the field of natural sciences at public schools – an initiative started at the Lakeside Science & Technology Park in Klagenfurt.
For a very long time, BABEG was known as a ‘ship without a crew’. When the Entwicklungsagentur Kärnten was dissolved in autumn 2015, BABEG took over a small team of five as well as the tasks of attracting and setting up new companies in the province.
35 years after BABEG’s establishment, the company returned to its core business and the mission it was founded for: advocating Carinthia’s interests to foreign investors and industry.
Number of employees: twelve (updated April 2019)
BABEG is managed by Hans Schönegger and Markus Hornböck.
2nd October 1979: Provincial Law Gazette for Carinthia, announcement 82, pdf
agreement on projects in the Province of Carinthia in which the federal and regional authorities are interested.
23rd January 1980: Federal Law Gazette no. 38, agreement on projects in the Province of Carinthia in which the federal and regional authorities are interested, Federal Law Gazette no. 38/1980, pdf