Utena 2019. Regional policy: from vision to reality
The forum “Utena 2019. Regional Policy: From Vision to Reality”, with participants including local political leaders as well as representatives of Utena’s business community, was held in Utena on 10 October. The invited speakers presented their observations and recommendations. The forum was organised by the Utena District Municipality, the Panevėžys Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts, and IQ, the monthly magazine of analytical commentary. The forum’s objective is, by identifying the region’s distinctive features, to encourage cooperation and the creation of conditions favourableto growth and development.
The forum devoted much attention to the Utena region’s distinctive opportunities. Every region seeks its own unique path to success, so the methodical movement of leaders toward success and the clear positioning of the region in that environment is very important. The first presentation was delivered by Arnoldas Pranckevičius, the head of the European Commission Representation in Lithuania, communicating the idea that political and administrative cooperation among the region’s leaders are fundamental aspects of regional prosperity. Relevant and timely presentations included, among others, Galimybės verslui: šiandien ir rytoj (Business Opportunities: Today and Tomorrow) (delivered by Jekaterina Rojaka, Vice-Minister at the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation) and the intriguingly-titled Iš Londono į Uteną: misija (ne)įmanoma (From London to Utena: Mission (Im)Possible) (delivered by Agila Barzdienė).
Simonas Petrulis, the CEO of the Marijampolė Free Economic Zone and representative of the Lithuanian Association of Free Economic Zones and of the World Free Zones Organization, delivered a presentation titled “Practical OBSERVATIONS on the Successful SELLING of One’s Region to an Investor”. According to the speaker, the political and administrative will of the leadership of a city or region is a necessary but insufficient precondition for the successful selling of a region in a global market. When setting a region’s selling objectives, the main message has to be clearly formulated. “Any accomplishment requires preparation and planning. The most important instruments for achieving a goal are consistency and belief in the value created by one’s organisation,” he said.
To make free economic zones even more attractive to potential foreign investors, a profit tax rate of 0% is applied during the company’s first 10 years of operations and a rate of 7.5% (half of the ordinary rate) is applied during the following 6 years of operations. At present, land plots at aFEZ may be leased for a period of 99 years.
A potential investor, when choosing a location, takes into consideration a variety of factors, one of the most relevant of which is the availability of employees having the necessary skills. The idea was expressed that it is necessary not only to create a strategy for positioning the region, but also to prepare the specialists necessary for implementing the strategy.
When there is good-willed cooperation among national, local and business institutions, the positions of every region are strengthened and conditions develop for investors to create new jobs.