Vicenza is known in Italy, and the world over, for the architecture of Palladio, for its Olympic Theatre and its villas, for its cuisine and the products of its land.
But Vicenza is not only art, good cuisine or tourism: it is also, and especially, economy, industry and handicrafts, production and export.
When reference is made to that “Veneto model” which has enabled the region to reach a level of well-being and social ease, which was unhoped for until a few decades ago, it must be stressed that the province, where this model has been best transformed into a reality, is precisely Vicenza.
This fact is even more evident on the industrial level where, right next to large groups, stand out medium-sized, small and very small companies, endowed with a lively spirit of enterprise, production flexibility, technical innovation and a strong export orientation.
These are important qualities in the panorama of Italian economics, which have brought Vicenza to a leading position in the areas with the highest, and most qualified degree of industrialisation.
It is now possible to speak with good reason of Vicenza model, since that one third of all the Veneto exports come from Vicenza and that, still with reference to exports, Vicenza maintains a significant nationwide place as well, with its approx. 12 billion Euro made through exports.
Company activities have shown a regular growth and today one of the features which make Vicenza a special zone for industry is the high degree of specialisation, with specific concentrations in the territory of certain types of production. There is a number of important centres of companies engaged in the heavy or precision mechanical industry, in the textile and clothing industry, of goldsmiths, carpentry and joinery, tannery, agriculture and foodstuffs, ceramics and many others.
The most important sector for Vicenza’s economy is that of iron and steel and mechanical engineering, which employs about one third of the total industrial workforce of the province, with a turnover exceeding 12,5 billion Euro in 2002. The considerable development in the mechanical engineering sector started in the 70s and in the last thirty years a wide variety of different types of production has taken root: the electro-mechanical industry, in the first place, but also the manufacture of machines for wood working, for tanneries and goldsmiths and of machine tools. There are also companies which have made themselves a reputation for reliability in high technology work.
Following the mechanical, the most representative sector of the province is that of textiles and clothing, employing nearly a quarter of the province’s industrial work force and with a 5.8 billion Euro turnover in 2002.
The textile and wool industries (mostly located in the Schio and Valdagno areas and in the territory at the foot of the mountains), whose origins go back to the late 18th century and then in the 19th century, have helped with their pioneering manufacturing activities to make the history of Italy’s industrialisation. In addition to that, the production of clothes of all types is still today of prime importance, from high class fashion to casual and sportswear as well as knitwear.
Vicenza is well-known throughout the world for its goldsmiths, which make the province one of the three most important centres in Italy and one of the world’s major producers of gold articles and jewellery worldwide, with a high proportion of exports to the five continents. It is enough to note that there are 1.225 production facilities, with a strong presence of artisans and craftsmen, and with 13.000 employees and a 4.3 billion Euro turnover and exports amounting to approx half that figure.
Vicenza’s goldsmiths’ tradition is ancient. It dates back to the Middle Ages and goes on to the 18th century, to the period of the Venice Republic. Today in Vicenza over 200,000 kg of gold are worked yearly - more than one third of the whole Italian quota. In this sector, a decisive role in increasing exports is played by the Vicenza Fair, which organises three gold exhibitions each year.
Tradition and innovation are also features of the furniture and carpentry sectors, showing a wide range of products which go from art and period furniture to everyday household (kitchens) and office furniture, with a happy blend of artistic design and quality, and with companies which are leaders in their field.
The tanning and leather industries provide products which are representative of Vicenza and make it the leading centre in Italy, with 8600 employees and a 3.2 billion Euro turnover, 1.8 of which comes from exports (mainly to European markets and to the United States).
The tanning industry started its development in the 60s and increased it in the 70s; today it is committed to safeguarding the environment through the introduction of a number of important technical innovations in the working processes.
There are many other sectors which give life to the Vicenza industry: plastics, with their very high innovative content; iron and steel, represented by a number of important steelworks; marble working, esteemed and in demand throughout the world; the foodstuffs industry, including the local wines, spirits, cheeses and hams, paper, artistic ceramics, building and plant construction.
As far as unemployment is concerned, Vicenza has an index substantially below the regional and national average. In 2003 it reached approx. 2,6%, namely full employment.
© Confindustria Vicenza