The mayor of Ajdovščina, Tadej Beočanin, tells Sebastian Shehadi about city’s agribusiness and tourism potential, sectors that he hopes will stimulate economic recovery.

Q: For those who do not know your small city, please introduce Ajdovščina.

A: [We’re] situated in western Slovenia on the border with Italy. Ajdovščina is the economic, educational and cultural centre of the Vipava Valley. Fertile soil, a strong influence of the Mediterranean climate, an abundance of water resources coupled with a favourable transport position create ideal conditions for the development of agricultural activities, industry and entrepreneurship.

The favourable natural conditions are perfect for growing vines (which in turn produce premium wines), native Vipava cherries, apricots and peaches, which are ripe earlier than elsewhere in Slovenia. As a result, a strong and continuously growing food processing industry developed in this region.

So, considerable opportunities lie in the area of tourism linked to the wine industry (wine tasting and gastronomy) and outdoor activities (paragliding, hiking, downhill bicycle racing etc). The Vipava valley, where the municipality is located, was chosen as a Top 10 Best in Europe destination by Lonely Planet. In the first six months of 2018, tourist visits are up 46% compared with last year. There is a lack of hotels, facilities for outdoor activities, and additional restaurants.

Q: What are the other business opportunities in Ajdovščina?

Due to economic growth, the municipality has foreseen building of a residential housing complex with 280 apartments for which it seeks investors locally and internationally. The municipality also invites hi-tech companies to the region.

The excellent integration of small business zones into the transport system enables dynamic operations at reduced operating costs. Small business zones boast modern traffic infrastructure toward Ljubljana to the east and toward Italy to the west, promoting speedy movement of goods and people. All small business zones are within a kilometre of the motorway access and railway station, providing links to all four corners of the world:

In sum, Ajdovščina has a favourable geographical and transport location – proximity to the border and to large markets – and knowledge of Western Balkan markets. It is an export-oriented economy that nurtures support environment for new businesses, conducive to entrepreneurship, small business and ultimately job creation.

Q: How are you making Ajdovščina more attractive to foreign investment?

The municipality of Ajdovščina has been quite hard hit by the economic recession, leaving a series of companies bankrupt and a number of people out of work. With great help of various grants and other stimuli, the local economy is recovering, but has a long way ahead before reaching the position it held before the crisis. [We] have been introducing various measures to promote and facilitate economic development and to create an attractive and supportive business environment.

For these reasons, each year the municipality allocates a substantial amount of funds for subsidies and grants....For example, the municipality offers subsidised compensation for superficies of up to 100% for production, research and development facilities newly erected on land owned by the municipality of Ajdovščina, [thereby] stimulating new investors and promotes new businesses, consequently creating new jobs.

The small size of the municipality (20,000 inhabitants) and constant need of the municipality to strive for recognition and promotion are key factors hindering faster growth. Also, due to the recent restructuring of the Slovene banking system, banks are cautious in financing large projects.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
fDi Magazine

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