Introduction There is a particularly good feeling about Coimbatore. The city has a fabulous spread of educational institutions. It is home to at least three deemed, Universities and has numerous colleges that are affiliated with Anna University, Chennai. Coimbatore has a commendable infrastructure that connects to the remotest villages by good roads. The villages are now developing so fast that each of these villages is now seeking to be covered under the proposed Coimbatore Metropolitan Development Authority(CMDA). There are big names in the real estate world already present in Coimbatore and the flats and apartments are growing by leaps and bounds in all the developed areas in a fifteen-kilometer or twenty-kilometer radius.
Coimbatore has several avenues for growth. This article seeks to discuss a) The Industry-led growth of Coimbatore b) Small entrepreneurs who make a huge difference c) The huge educational infrastructure d) Service Sector growth and e) Tourism-led growth.
The Industry-led growth of Coimbatore Coimbatore is home to a huge number of auto ancillaries and foundries. These industries supply the auto majors in India and abroad as well. The growth of the textile industry has somewhat declined in the past two decades due to the closure of the National Textile Corporation (NTC) units. However, there have been new engines of growth. There is a mini Tidel park in Coimbatore, housing the best IT companies. Similarly, there is a growing interest in Coimbatore, since the real estate is much cheaper than in Chennai. WIPRO, for instance, developed a big unit in Coimbatore, a long while ago.
There is always scope for growth and the entire IT infrastructure of Coimbatore is now undergoing a metamorphosis like never before. The proposed metro rail network, for which the Tamil Nadu Government has already announced the allocation of funds is bound to open up new vistas of growth for the IT sector. Among the big textile units, a notable exemption is KPR Mills, which has a huge unit on the outskirts of Coimbatore city. This benevolent employer has made a big difference in the lives of thousands of rural women. They are given decent wages, highly subsidized quality food, and long-term benefits. The textile hub of Tiruppur is just an hour's drive from Coimbatore and is connected by thousands of buses. There are too many trains as well. The growth of Coimbatore is also supplemented by the rich Tiruppur industrialists who own huge houses, farmhouses, guest houses and what have you, in Coimbatore city.
Small entrepreneurs who make a huge difference Coimbatore has no parallel when it comes to the massive number of entrepreneurs who make good income. These entrepreneurs have small establishments, catering to the big companies and there are firm buy-back arrangements. While this is true of the organized engineering industry, there are many who have made merry in poultry products. The largest chicken exports in India are from Coimbatore, through a highly organized and famous company called Suguna Chicken. The most advanced technology is used by this firm. It also caters to a vast domestic market. Coimbatore has numerous units manufacturing mixies and wet grinders and these are exported to many countries in Africa and to many other parts of the world. There is also a big agricultural pumps and motors industry based in Coimbatore.
The branded and famous Maharaja mixie product is based in Coimbatore. Since industrialists often visit various parts of the country, the Coimbatore International Airport is one of the fastest-growing airports in the country and the domestic air industry is booming. The airport is being expanded and there is a big demand for flights to more international destinations. There are at least four night trains to Chennai and each of these is packed to the full. The Vande Bharat train is now being introduced between Chennai and Coimbatore very soon.
The huge educational infrastructure Coimbatore is home to a highly regarded and recognized Textile Management Institute, and it offers various courses. There is a forest college in Coimbatore. The State Government sponsored Bharatiyar University operates from Coimbatore and numerous Arts and Science colleges of Coimbatore and Erode are affiliated with it.
The Anna University of Chennai has at least thirty-five engineering colleges. The PSG group, which is autonomous, is a branded college, ranked among the best in India. Its two other cousins, the Coimbatore Institute of Technology and the Government College of Technology are highly regarded brands and they get the best of students on day one itself. That is the cream of Tamil Nadu and the rest of India flock to these colleges. There is a massive export of such graduates to the UK and USA, every year, for higher education. There is the Avinashilingam Home Science Deemed University for women, the Karunya Deemed University, and the Karpagam Deemed University. The Amirta Deemed University enjoys a pride of place among the best-deemed universities of India. Its big campus at Ettimadai, on the outskirts of Coimbatore, has emerged as a college of choice for thousands of students. The numerous branded CBSE schools of Coimbatore and the private sector Matriculation schools complete the picture.
To cater to the textile industry, there are many colleges offering Textile Technology, even at the Postgraduate level. There are proposals for more B-schools, but the city does not have more than one or two branded B-Schools. Hopefully, with the advent of more branded B-Schools keen on setting up campuses here, the chances of Coimbatore turning out quality MBAs in the near future is likely to be a reality.
Service Sector growth Coimbatore is at the center of massive growth in the service sector. Today, it has at least three five-star hotels, and each of these hotels are having occupancy rates of over eighty percent. The conference and seminar industry is now growing by leaps and bounds. The most famous road is the Avinashi Road and in the next ten years, Avinashi is likely to become part of Coimbatore, given the stupendous growth at the moment. There are shops and establishments. There are hotels of various sizes and the food that is on offer is so diverse. One gets to eat food that is famous in most parts of India.
The catering industry is now capable of catering to mass events and these cater to even twenty-five thousand people. The Coimbatore District Small Scale Industries Association (CODISSA) is a big lobby, and this organization keeps on organizing international conferences, trade fairs, and so on. The growth of the service sector is now complete with the emergence of a vast Corporate Hospital Industry. Though the rates compare with the best of similar hospitals in Chennai or any other metro city since the service and quality of medical facilities are equal to or better than other competitors thousands of patients from South Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and even Karnataka, flock to Coimbatore.
The service sector growth is also made possible through a massive influx of migrants from all over India. This growth has happened at the lower end of each segment, but since the volumes are very high, the growth keeps on happening. For example, the snacks are available throughout the day, at just Rs.6 apiece. This brings in huge crowds and the owners and customers are happy. It is a win-win situation. The craze for organic foods has made the organized hotel industry flourish in this segment as well.
Tourism-led growth Since Coimbatore is very near Kerala, the tourists camp in Coimbatore for a day or two, see all the places in and around Coimbatore and then take the day train to Cochin. Similarly, it is also wise to stay at reasonably priced lodges in Coimbatore and visit Ooty, the queen of all hill stations in India, which is just a two-hour drive by bus from Coimbatore. Budget tourists prefer this route to Ooty and hence the hotel industry keeps growing. Those who have roots in Coimbatore, often go to Pollachi, one of the most beautiful towns in India, with greenery spread over thousands of acres. The coconuts from this town are exported all over the world. Many thousands of hotels buy coconuts only from this town, as the quality is too good.
Coimbatore is thus at the center and since the number of tourists keeps on increasing, the segmentation in terms of services happens every single day. The fastest-growing segment is the mid-segment and the marketing wiz kids have understood the game very well. For example, the massive growth of hotels offering rooms at Rs.800 to Rs.1000 per night, is meant to cater to the mid-segment of customers. The relatively good food available in the smaller unbranded restaurants contributes to the growth of the food industry as well.
Conclusion The aforesaid discussion is indicative and is not exhaustive, of how Coimbatore city has now emerged as one of the fastest growing tier 2 cities of India. When the population explodes to over forty hundred thousand people in the next eight years, it will surely become a metropolis in its own right.
Coimbatore is a ciiy that I like very much.
I had visited the city even last week. I was staying in a small town in Coimbatore district about thirty years ago. So whenever I felt bored and wanted to have a change, I used to visit Coimbatore. The Annapoorna-Gowrishanker group restaurants were my favourite eating place. I also used to roam around on the Cross Cut Road, Lakshmi Complex and Oppanakara street near Ukkadam bust stand.
There was a town bus number 7 or 9 (not exactly remembering) which was a circular route and it helped to see the city to a great extent by sitting in the same bus at a cheap fare.
Now Coimbatore has expanded to a good metro standard. Being at the border of Kerala and almost a trijunction with Karnataka, it has all favourable factors as a good tourist place and a commercial place. Recently Coimbatore has developed into a real estate paradise, an educational hub and a getaway destination.