Q: How would you describe Apulia's approach to attracting FDI?
A: Foreign investment can help the Apulia region to overcome the economic crisis. The Apulia government has a strong interest in promoting investment from foreign companies in its territory. To this end, the government has devised a wide range of incentives and grants tailored to suit the needs of different types of investors and various forms of investment.
These regional incentive schemes have the advantage of offering a great deal of flexibility, thanks to the fact that potential investors can negotiate directly with the regional authorities, allowing investors to make long-term plans for development. Sectors for investment include plants and manufacturing, as well as research and training.
The regional government currently offers 13 incentive schemes, catering to companies of all sizes. In recent years, these incentive schemes have generated investment worth more than €3bn. Moreover, one of these schemes, aimed specifically at long-term investments, has attracted 11 multinational companies to Apulia.
Q: How is the political uncertainty in Italy at the moment impacting Apulia, its economy and its efforts to attract FDI?
A: The incentive and grants schemes for attracting investment to Apulia are set up and managed directly by the regional administration and as such are not influenced by the current difficulties of the national government.
Q: What are the region’s advantages in terms of attracting FDI and how is the regional government trying to leverage them?
A: The region of Apulia offers numerous advantages for foreign investors. Those investing in the region locate their companies in an area that represents a natural bridge between East and West, where the culture of hospitality is a long-standing value, handed down from generation to generation.
Those investing in Apulia will find not only a highly efficient transport system at their disposal, but also a region that is continuing to invest substantially in logistics infrastructure. Moreover, they can count on the availability of a qualified workforce and significant investments in training and the fostering of young talent.
The presence of a qualified network of research laboratories, boosted by significant investment in innovation promoted by regional policies, completes the local framework for potential investors.
Q: What are the main challenges you face?
A: The main challenges relate to the current economic crisis, which has caused a significant increase in poverty and unemployment. In spite of the fact that Apulia is one of the few regions in Italy to have registered an increase in recent employment figures [with an increase of 2000 jobs in 2012], the widespread impact of the crisis on local companies has increased the number of families facing economic difficulties.
The Apulia regional government intends to transform the current challenges into an opportunity for overcoming crisis by creating incentive schemes. In addition to the 13 incentive schemes for business investment, a scheme will soon be launched to promote international business development for local business networks. Furthermore, another small grants scheme will be made available to organisations operating in the charity and non-profit sectors to provide aid to the disadvantaged.
We would like our economy to be made up not only of profits and results, but also to be inclusive of people with their fragility and dignity worthy of respect and attention.