Serbia makes it personal

  • Novi Becej, population: 23,295
  • Zitiste, population: 16,786
  • Zrenjanin, population: 76,511

Novi Becej, Zitiste and Zrenjanin are all located in Vojvodina, an autonomous region in northern Serbia. The region itself is already on investors’ radar, having attracted nearly one-third of all greenfield projects located in Serbia since 2003, according to fDi Markets.

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Matija Kovac, deputy mayor of Novi Becej, says now is the time for Vojvodina’s smaller municipalities to make their presence felt. “We have come [to Mipim] for the first time and we are here with a lot of expectations,” he says. According to Mr Kovac, investors coming to Novi Becej can benefit from the same advantages they can find across Serbia, such as relatively cheap labour and property, as well as a level of attention that can rarely be found in bigger cities. “Our local department [of investment support] is very effective and because we are a small municipality, we can provide investors with answers that are very fast and accurate,” he says.

Jelena Travar Miljevic, deputy mayor of Zitiste, says this is also the case in her city. Some of the main advantages of investing in Zitiste include its proximity to the border with the EU and the availability of space in the city’s industrial zones. The city hall also has a strategy of assigning each investor one municipal employee to facilitate investment. “It is definitely easier for big cities to attract investors, but I think that small cities can attract investors with [their] focus and energy,” says Ms Miljevic.

Such focus has paid off already in the case of Zrenjanin. As fDi Markets data shows, since 2003 the city has attracted 32 greenfield crossborder investments. It is one of the most popular FDI destinations in Vojvodina, second only to Novi Sad, the region’s capital, which is nearly four times Zrenjanin’s size. According to mayor Cedomir Janijc, Zrenjanin’s success is down to its investment facilitation efforts. “We are offering many local subsidies and support with necessary permits. I have in my cabinet people that are in charge of foreign investments and are helping [investors],” he says.

Poland groups together

  • Gubin, population: 16,974
  • Kargowa, population: 3660
  • Krosno Odrzanskie, population: 12,100

Gubin, Kargowa and Krosno Odrzanskie, cities in western Poland, joined forces at this year's Mipim, their first visit to the conference. As the mayor of Kargowa, Jerzy Fabis says that investors can choose which location best fits their needs.

In the case of Kargowa, says Mr Fabis, the best fit seems to be in the food processing sector, as the city already boasts a plant run by Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé. “Nestlé decided to take the risk in investing [in Kargowa] and it succeeded in doing so,” he says, adding that while at Mipim he is particularly targeting Swiss investors as their compatriots’ success story in Kargowa might appeal to them.

Grzegorz Garczynski, deputy mayor of Krosno Odrzanskie, which is located 60 kilometres west of Kargowa, also hopes his city will attract more investors to the sectors already present in his municipality, namely metallurgy and wood products. “We have nearly 20 hectares of investment-ready plots, mostly in the Kostrzyn-Slubice economic zone, which offer tax incentives,” says Mr Garczynski.

Gubin, the biggest of the three cities, appeals to investors given its location right on the border with Germany, according to Justyna Karpisiak, the city's deputy mayor. But rather than promote Gubin exclusively, she focuses on the fact that three small municipalities have joined forces and are on hand to talk to investors. “We all have interesting grounds for investment that cater for companies from various industries,” says Ms Karpisiak. “At shows such as Mipim there is plenty on offer for big investors, but some look for places that feel more cosy.”

Norway connects capital

  • Nesodden, population 16,231
  • Ski, population 26,800

Small municipalities located near much bigger cities often prefer to go it alone rather than take advantage of the better known brand of their neighbour. Yet, according to representatives from Ski and Nesodden, two cities situated 30 kilometres and 50 kilometres from Oslo, respectively, efficiency in reaching investors should trump pride. “It is definitely useful for us [to be known as part of the Oslo region]. We are too small alone,” says Anne Kristine Linnestad, mayor of Ski.

There is also an infrastructure-related rationale behind connecting Ski with Oslo. It currently takes about 30 minutes to drive to Oslo’s city centre from Ski, but by 2021 that time will be cut by more than half, making the city more of a district of Oslo. “I think it will be very useful for business, property buying and housing,” says Ms Linnestad.

Nina Sandberg, mayor of Nesodden, also highlights the city’s proximity to Norway’s capital: “We are close to Oslo, [just] 20 minutes by boat.” However, there is more to Nesodden than just its location, she adds: “It is a great community to live in with a rich civil society and cultural life, and an educated population.” And Ms Sandberg hopes that Mipim will improve her city in other ways. “I am looking for inspiration [at Mipim] to improve the strength of urban planning,” she says, while pointing to the Malmo-Oresund region as an example of the area she might want to follow when running Nesodden. “It has been very good at infrastructure, so it is very inspiring,” adds Ms Sandberg.