Ladies and gentlemen!
It is my pleasure and privilege to present the Sisak-Moslavina County, our resources and current economic possibilities, our vision and results of the previous work. This text, together with our well-organized and comprehensive web-pages (www.smz.hr), is another way of ensuring our quality promotion. Other ways of promotion include financing the participation of our craftsmen, small businesses, fruit growers, winemakers, farmers and family agricultural, catering and tourism businesses on various domestic and international fairs, which we carry out in cooperation with the Croatian Chamber of Economy-County Chamber of Sisak and the Chamber of Trades of the Sisak-Moslavina County.
I am sure you will see that the Sisak-Moslavina County, boasting with rich natural (the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, the Una river, the Topusko health resort), human, IT and financial resources, located in an excellent geographical and strategic position, presents a vast economic potential attractive for investments!
Sisak is the administrative centre of the county and is situated only fifty kilometres from Zagreb. Our economic potentials are hidroenergy, petroleum, underground gas, arable land, forests and vineyards, thermal waters, navigable rivers, preserved nature and up to 30 percent lower labour price than the one in north-western Croatia, while the property prices can be lower by a whopping 50 percent. Investments into our county can yield profits because of its strategically well location, excellent transport links, local government open to collaboration and skilled, efficient, creative and motivated workers.
The sitting county government has been implementing various programmes within the framework of incentives for a seventh year running. The programmes are aimed at restoring the infrastructure, mitigating the effects of economic crisis and encouraging development of environmentally sound and sustainable crafts, small and medium enterprises, agriculture and tourism. Establishment of a business zone also contributes to a faster and more efficient harmonization of development of all parts of the county and helps boost our region towards the top of the development scale of Croatian counties. Opening of our county to other Croatian counties and the neighbouring communities in the wider region also contributes significantly to our competitiveness and the quality of the material, spiritual and cultural life of our entire population.
We see the processes of European integration and globalization as a challenge and an opportunity to exchange experiences and learn from those who are better than us in the activities aimed at achieving the common good and thus we develop a market economy with a human face more efficiently.
The proactive politics of the current county government in the matters of economy and society find its stronghold in the most important documents of our regional self-government unit: County Development Strategy and the strategies of agricultural and tourism development.
Thanks to the implementation of amendments to the Sisak-Moslavina County 2010 County Development Strategy, the current key document has become compliant with the current social and economic trends, both within the regional self-government unit and the entire Croatia and neighbouring EU Member States. Upon Croatia's accession to the EU the primary sources of funding for investments at the regional level will be structural and cohesion funds. The concept of European unity centres precisely on regional development, where the politics and practices of reducing the disparity between the different levels of economic power of each region have a key role. On the one hand the steady development of our county, which has been the mission of the county government since the year 2005 implies the involvement of all available resources in strengthening of our rural, less developed areas such as Banovina, Pounje and Kordun. On the other hand, it implies the raising of the quality and effectiveness of engaging all available resources to encourage further development of more developed areas such as the Moslavina, Western Slavonia and Sisak Posavina, which are mostly urbanized.
The planning, drafting and adoption of a document such as the County Development Strategy means we are sure of a positive outcome in achieving the vision of the Sisak-Moslavina County area as a competitive economy that is developed through integrated development programmes and partnerships, which raises the quality of life for its citizens and sets a tradition and natural resources in the centre of its future!
During the previous period we have managed to implement a series of capital investments, particularly in health care and transportation infrastructure, without any state aid whatsoever. However, I believe that the biggest step we have made so far was the establishment of updated administration and logistics so that investors do not have to wait for "years" to obtain the necessary documentation, permits, etc. Rather, the waiting period is within legal limits. We have also made a huge step forward by implementing our own series of measures aimed at encouraging the development of crafts, small and medium enterprises, tourism and agriculture, which are precisely our strategic guidelines. The incentive measures we have been implementing for a seventh year running are intended to contribute to the creation of a better and more favourable environment for investment with a growing number of enterprise zones (which is currently 10, while 24 are planned) and increase investments. During the previous period we have invested HRK 397.3 million (HRK 77.1 million of our budget funds; the remainder was funded by entrepreneurial loans and our guarantee fund) in a total of 263 projects aimed at developing small businesses, thanks to which 638 new jobs have been created, and 348 new ones are planned. The most favourable credit lines in the country, such as the ones of the previous year and the year before, are among the most important incentives.
Investments and results in the development of tourism are also impressive! From 2006 until late 2011 HRK 13,250,000 has been invested in 152 tourism projects throughout the county, of which HRK 8.3 million were grants. The number of rentals, family farms engaged in tourism and providing accommodation and the number of beds provided in rental accommodation facilities and family farms has been multiplied manifold. According to the data of the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, thanks to the number of tourists and overnight stays last year we became one of the leading inland counties. In terms of tourism resources and profit from tourism, that is, if we analyse efficiency, we rank third among all Croatian counties and the City of Zagreb.
Through our incentives we have invested HRK 25.6 million of our budget funds in agriculture, and for every kuna of incentives our farmers invest five kuna of their own. Overall, joint ventures in agriculture totalled to approximately HRK 130 million by late 2011. The results are very good; I will only point out a few. We are the leading county in Croatia in terms of the number of organic producers and the area under organic production, the number of lactating cows in farm conditions, the number of indigenous cattle breeds of horses, the number of colonies of bees, and the amount of vineyards.
I believe that one of the most important achievements of the current county government is the fact that our region has become a desirable place for investment. Let me point out only a few capital investments such as the one made by Applied Ceramics in Sisak, where they invested USD 12 million and created 100 new jobs. Furthermore, Obendorfer made EUR 7 million investment and will have created 120 new jobs in the following years. In the spring of 2011 we participated in the opening of the PharmaS generic drugs factory in Popovača whose worth is estimated at EUR 300 million and which will employ 150 workers...
In relation to the resources from access funds, so far 56 projects in the total amount of EUR 11.1 million have been approved. We are currently in the process of contracting four national infrastructure projects in the area of the Sisak-Moslavina County targeted at the river port, railway infrastructure, water supply, drainage and wastewater treatment. So far 13 projects have been approved within the IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Programme between the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which 7 are carried out within our county. In total, 169 projects valued at EUR 1.6 billion are being prepared for structural funds within the county, while 51 projects worth EUR 68.5 million have already been completely prepared.
We only have a few more capital investments to make, which I will not go into at this moment. I will only mention the continuation of our own system of incentives, investment in transport (road and river) infrastructure, development and health and spa tourism. We are currently seeking a strategic partner for one of the most important projects in healthcare, that is, health tourism, building a wellness and spa garden Top Terme Topusko.
In my opinion, what exceeds the aforementioned, in terms of importance, is the message to our citizens and domestic and foreign investors that they have a partner in us - a politically and democratically mature and responsible government at the county level. We are here to dispose of taxpayers' money responsibly while working in the interests of all citizens and businesses.
We offer all of you, our future investors and partners, full support and assistance of governing bodies and all other institutions of Sisak-Moslavina County. We invite you to cooperate with us, establish partnerships and we wish you a warm welcome!
THE PREFECT OF SISAK-MOSLAVINA COUNTY
Marina Lovrić Merzel, graduate engineer