Biała Podlaska Bids for Investment
March 5, 2008
The city of Biała Podlaska in eastern Poland knows how to make good use of funds from the European Union. Located 35 kilometers from Poland's border with Belarus, Biała Podlaska used to be a provincial capital. Now a county capital in Lublin province, the city has stepped out of the shadows and joined the competition to win over investors. It has a lot to offer.
For several years, people in Biała Podlaska put all their hopes in a huge project promised by Turkish businessman Vahap Toy. He was planning to build an airport on the site of a former military airfield and establish a economic zone with jobs for 40,000 people. The zone was to cover a conference center, an aquapark and hotels. People in Biała Podlaska were hoping to get jobs, but the Turkish businessman failed to deliver on his promises and the local authorities are now searching for new ideas for a better future of the city and the community. They are not just waiting, but acting.
Andrzej Czapski, mayor of Biała Podlaska, talks to Urszula Imienińska.
Statistics show that when it comes to funds spent on completed projects, Biała Podlaska is almost unrivaled in terms of EU fund absorption. Over the past four years, EU subsidies for Biała Podlaska have averaged zl.1,239 per capita, totaling zl.72 million. What has the money been spent on?
The money has gone to the establishment of the Biała Podlaska Business Activity Zone which offers land for investment in excellent locations with full infrastructure. We have also upgraded a few streets and intersections and laid water pipelines where they were needed. We have never applied for funds for projects like a road leading to nowhere. It was not easy. For example, Biała Podlaska did not manage to obtain funds to renovate the Radziwiłłowski Park. The competition was too tight; we lost out to the castle in Lublin and the Old Town in Zamość. Larger cities have better opportunities and are capable of investing more money in their projects.
What are the main proposals for investors at the moment? What do you want to entice investors with?
The proximity to Belarus is a key asset of Biała Podlaska and so we believe the greatest opportunities for the city are projects and services related to Belarus being so close. Our companies have very good contacts with partners on the other side of the border, which may encourage new partners to invest here.
We have two very interesting proposals for investors. One of them is the Biała Podlaska Business Activity Zone, which has direct transportation links to national road No. 2 (Biała Podlaska beltway) and Brzeska Street, one of the main streets in the city. The zone is located in the business and trade section of Biała Podlaska, an area where trade and services have been developing very dynamically.
The zone is home to the Customs Chamber and the Customs Office. The area is assigned for commercial purposes, warehouses and production with high intensity of land development.
The most attractive proposal in Biała Podlaska is the former military airfield in the southeastern part of the city. The area is adjacent to the E20 railway line, which leads from Madrid to Moscow via Warsaw. In the future, the international A2 freeway will pass just 3 km from Biała Podlaska.
The airfield covers over 600 hectares of flat area with full infrastructure. The land is prepared for commercial projects and can continue to serve as an airport. The urban development plan for the area provides investors with a wide range of possibilities. The "Lotnisko" (Airport) investment proposal is one of the most interesting of its kind in Poland.
Biała Podlaska has won a Fair Play Community title. How important is this to you?
Fair Play Community means Biała Podlaska is open for investors. We seek to attract investors and know-how to provide them with the best business environment. We also assist them in difficult bureaucratic situations which are the main obstacle to enterprise in Poland. The Fair Play Community title acknowledges, rewards and supports our efforts. We gain a lot of benefits from the title. It shows to potential investors that investment here is worthwhile, as investors prefer reliable places to experimenting with different locations for their companies.
The Fair Play Community title ensures greater trust from businesses, which facilitates new business contacts. The title is proof that the we have achieved the goals we once set for ourselves: the dynamic development of Biała Podlaska, new investors and satisfied residents. This gives us enormous satisfaction and shows we were right in our choices. Our participation in the Fair Play Community competition is part of a campaign to create a positive image of our city as a place that keeps its gates wide open for investors, providing them with attractive locations and professional service.
Why is Biała Podlaska worth investing in?
It is conveniently located for investors. There are three key factors needed for a successful business: a good transportation network, access to an adequate number of skilled staff and good business conditions. The district of Biała Podlaska meets all these criteria, offering ideal conditions for prospective investors, manufacturers, traders and property developers.
It is an attractive tourist destination with a clean environment. Moreover, the international E30 route, one of Europe's most important East-West routes, from Madrid through Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Minsk, Moscow, ending in Vladivostok, passes through Biała Podlaska. An international main railway line, the E20, runs alongside the route. Biała Podlaska is 36 kilometers from the Belarusian border crossings in Terespol and Koroszczyn. Also, the country's largest road/rail port and a Customs Free Zone in Małaszewicze are situated 25 kilometers from the city.
Officially Investor Friendly
Biała Podlaska was awarded a four-star Investor Friendly Community certificate last October. The city is now one of a select group that boasts professional investor services. Biała Podlaska has been formally recognized for being able to meet international standards in attracting foreign investors, having a qualified and professional work force, satisfying the requirements and expectations of investors, and having created a business-friendly climate.