A tiger of trade, Denizli is an Anatolian city with unique economic and socio-cultural qualities that is developing, changing and transforming through the dynamics of globalization.
It is also a city where success in urban transformation has been achieved through coordination among the municipality, chambers of commerce and trade, nongovernmental organizations and universities. It is a city that shows the results of an urban coalition.
Denizli has a high level of exports and earned the name "Anatolian Tiger." The nickname is given to cities with fast growing economies, becoming shining stars among traditional industry and trade centers, especially during the economic development process that started in 1980 and continued through the 1990s.
Ten Denizli companies, out of which three are active in Istanbul, made it to the list of "Top 500 Private Companies of 2007" by Capital business magazine in its August 2008 issue.
The high volume of textile exports particularly offers Denizli a future as a world city with close ties to Europe and the world. Müjdat Keçeci, president of Denizli Chamber of Industry, or DSO, said Denizli is "a city completely integrated with the outside world."
Denizli is a conservative province with strong religious values. Still, entrepreneurs in the city support the EU process almost 100 percent.
High export figures
The city’s industry consists of six major sectors: textile and ready made clothing, electronics, copper wire and energy cables, raw materials and metals, natural stones, travertine and marble, modern animal feed and livestock farming.
Copper wire production has recently gained importance. Copper wire producer, Er-Bakır Company ranks 4th among the 30 fast-growing firms in Turkey. It produces copper wires for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, in addition to many other large world companies.
The city’s current economic importance and its power in the textile sector is not a coincidence. The city was historically a trading center for weaving, leather trade and copper as well as a settlement in the Antiquity Era. Denizli’s history has added to the spirit of entrepreneurship and dynamism in the city, according to the Denizli Chamber of Commerce, or DTO’s, President Necdet Özer and Secretary General Bülent Uygun.
Denizli is developing through its internal capital. Inventory studies in industry conducted by DSO in 2003 indicate that about 60 percent of firms in Denizli were set up after 1990 and they did not have lump sums of bank credit when they were established. Sixty-eight percent of these companies provided their capital through family as of 2000. And industry branches also lean on family business in capital. Since 2000 companies in Denizli meet 60 percent of their financing through their own equities.
Denizli’s inspiring development, both for the region and the country, has begun to witness setbacks. Though the government’s foreign exchange policy is mostly being blamed for that, part of it also stems from the fact that the city failed to institutionalize the development.
Saying that this is the inevitable result of the adaptation to global changes and not a regression, DSO and DTO have asked for government incentives. Employment and added value problems faced in Denizli can be solved through the cooperation of the government, universities, industrialists, sector organizations and NGOs, according to Uygun.
Recently, the city has focused heavily on research in technical textile and nanotechnology. Companies in Denizli are trying to establish corporate identity and become a brand to effectively compete. Müjdat Keçeci, DSO president at the time, said in a statement he made in October 2008, "It is no longer possible to run a business with only one treasurer or an accountant as it was in the past."
"We know that we have to run our business in a quite different way as we globalize in the modern world. It is impossible to continue without applying modern techniques and ways of management while we run and develop our business," said Uygun. He also predicted that companies not innovative in textile and ready made clothing will disappear. For this reason, as a critical step in research and development, Denizli Teknopark was established with the cooperation of DSO and a university for innovation studies.
Being effected by the economic crunch gives rise to uncertainties and distrust in culture and identity. Denizli is faced with the exclusion of different identities in recent years that causes conservatism and weakening cultural diversity.
There is not a big set of examples as to the main obstacles in front of Denizli’s cultural and diversity. But a visit to the city gives the impression that there are increasing concerns as to the maintenance of a culture of diversity. Denizli today is facing a real economic crisis. The "Outlook Survey 2009" shows considerable regression in industrial production, capacity in use, sales, profitability, investment, export and employment, according to the results announced by DSO on March 4, 2009. It also shows that the city will face serious difficulties in 2009.