Zlin is a medium-sized city and it is famous as the birthplace of Tomas Bata, the founder of the colossal Bata Shoe Empire. The company flourished in the first half of the 20th century and since then Zlin became a centre of business, new technologies, research and culture. In 1939 Bata Shoe Company has been doing business in 42 fields of manufacturing, trade, and services and there were factories and subsidiaries in 39 countries around the world. However, the World War II and the following communist regime had very negative effect on the company and the city, -and many people decided to move away.
The character of Zlin has been formed since the beginning of the 1990s - the city of entrepreneurs. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 a number of companies gained a crucial position within the framework of the Czech industry, and their representatives began to successfully do business on foreign markets, which hadn't been previously accessible. Zlin built its seat and surroundings towards machine production, rubber and plastics industry. Zlin's industrial production was naturally concentrated around the extensive industrial zone of the former Bata factories. In 2001 a new industrial zone emerged on the east side of the city, which is being filled by both domestic and foreign investors involved in the development and production of household appliances, automobile industry components, plastics manufacture, metal machining and the food industry. Zlin remains open to new investment offers and interest by new entrepreneurs that will find both business partners and a qualified work force, important for development and production.
Zlin is also a university city. Tomas Bata University has six faculties and around 9200 students. It is one of the most prominent centers of research in the Czech Republic. The University has more than 950 foreign students from more than 70 countries around the world. Every year, several hundreds students from Europe, America, Asia and Africa study in Zlin and Zlin students have the opportunity to spend a part of their studies in one of the partner universities situated abroad. Tomas Bata University trains managers and specialists mainly in technological, economic, artistic and multimedia fields. One of the key success factors of Tomas Bata Company and city development was the ability of Tomas Bata to attract the most talented and hard working people from around the world.