Kassel’s boom was a long time coming.
For way too long, unemployment in this small town in the heart of Germany was at 20 percent, its airport listed dates and not just times – and city officials had to phone up entrepreneurs and beg them to come. The town’s highlight was the Documenta, a major international art fair that comes once every five years.
But Kassel has bounced back, partly thanks to a solar panel factory, SMA Solar Technology, the region’s second-biggest employer. The high-tech company produces solar-power modules and its chief executive compares the sight of his factory to the baroque waterfall monument of Hercules downtown: a source of pride.