With 342,766 businesses operating in 2006 - accounting for over 40% of Lombard and 6% of all Italian registered companies- metropolitan Milan is the richest and economically best developed area in the whole of Italy.
Our area's leadership is confirmed by the data on the production of wealth: in 2005 metropolitan Milan generated a GDP of over € 137 bln (or 10% of GNP), with a GDP quota per capita of € 35,776.
Traditionally open to competition and innovation, Milan's economic system also ranks first in Italy in terms of imports/exports. In 2005 Milanese trade accounted for 45% of Lombardy's and 13% of Italy's exports, while imports accounted for 67% and 24% respectively, a situation that appears to be substantially confirmed by the data for the first nine months of 2006 as well.
The lion's share of Direct Foreign Investments (DFI) into Italy is in fact concentrated in Milan and the surrounding province, with 41.7% of the national total of businesses participated by foreign companies, 36.5% of employees and 40.1% of turnover. The headquarters of all leading Italian and foreign banks are also located here.
Constantly undergoing radical change, the Milanese economy has witnessed a rapid move away from the province's manufacturing tradition towards an advanced services industry; within this context, certain segments reflect an increasingly marked change towards an information- and knowledge-based economy.
Changes in the sectorial composition of Milanese industry have gone hand in hand with equally radical changes in the nature of the local entrepreneurial system. The major industrial groups that used to form the backbone of the Milanese economy have been replaced by an extremely close-knit and well-integrated network of small and very small enterprises. Today, these account for no less than 94% of the total, flanked by a limited number of medium-large enterprises.
By contrast, the service sector is undergoing the reverse process, with an ever-increasing number of major companies gradually elbowing their way into the market, especially in segments such as large-scale retail distribution, telecommunications and communications.
Over the last few years, Milan has also consolidated its national leadership in the field of innovation and technology, again with a marked shift away from manufacturing in favour of services.