It was on the day when we were set to travel from Erode to Coimbatore by road that the Jallikattu supporters declared a bandh across Tamil Nadu to protest against the Supreme Court ban on the age-old sport. Much to our surprise, it was an eventless journey till we reached Coimbatore. It was then that we saw thousands of passionate vocal students, from hundreds of educational institutions that the city is famous for, thronging the streets in support of Jallikattu.
D Nandakumar, former president of Chamber of Commerce, can easily relate to the euphoria and adds that it was another set of students who had changed the destiny of the city in the late 1900s. Some of them included GR Damodaran, Textool’s D Balasundaram, Texmo’s R Ramaswamy and GK Sundaram from the Lakshmi group, who were returning from the UK and US after their higher studies and were discussing their future plans. Damodaran had a unique vision and wanted to start an engineering college. His idea gave Coimbatore its first private engineering college — the well-known PSG College of Technology, which was founded in 1951. Similarly, the other three went on to build companies that excelled in textile machinery, engineering and pumps that gave Coimbatore a makeover from being an agricultural economy to one of the largest industrial hubs in South India. Their ideas fostered an entrepreneurial spirit in the city that has led to the formation of many medium and small enterprises.
Today, Coimbatore is home to more than 25,000 SMEs and contributes around Rs.10,000 crore to the government’s coffers through direct and indirect taxes. Despite not having a single public sector enterprise, it is one of the fastest growing cities in terms of industrial activity, second only to Chennai.
Industrious by nature
Coimbatore is also the second largest IT and BPO hub in Tamil Nadu after Chennai. With a cost advantage of around 35% over Chennai, entrepreneurs feel that the city has tremendous possibility of growth, provided they are equipped with adequate connectivity and infrastructure. “Earlier, we did have power problems, but that’s solved now. This is an ideal place to live, work and start a business, as compared to any other city in Tamil Nadu. But, because of the airport, our IT busine