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The Warsaw Voice » Other » March 4, 2009
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Natural Potential
March 4, 2009   
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Szymon Madera, chairman of the Special Economic Zone for Medium Business in Kamienna Góra, talks to Barbara Deręgowska.

When was the zone set up and for what purpose? What was the region's economic state at the time?
The Kamienna Góra Special Economic Zone for Medium Business has been in operation since September 1997. The late 1990s were a particularly difficult period for the Polish economy. A wave of bankruptcies that affected large enterprises hit Kamienna Góra as well. The town was a major textile industry center at the time. Several thousand people became jobless after a local linen plant, rayon factory, a large sewing plant, and a shoemaking plant went bankrupt.

The Kamienna Góra Special Economic Zone for Medium Business was set up thanks to the commitment of the municipal authorities at the time. It is a unique business zone, based in a town of just over 20,000 and focused on small and medium-sized businesses (SME), in line with its founders' plans.

Among the zone's founders was the commune of Nowogrodziec in Bolesławiec County. It contributed to the zone over 100 hectares of quality land free from any post-industrial problems. Today the zone covers over 300 hectares of land divided into more than 10 subzones and located in two provinces, Lower Silesia and Wielkopolska.

Tell us about the zone's beginnings. What sectors dominate now?
The beginnings were quite difficult. Of the dozen or so businesses that came to the Kamienna Góra zone first, only one still operates here. However, the zone has been expanding consistently since the beginning of the decade. Kamienna Góra and Nowogrodziec are the busiest parts of the zone today. In Kamienna Góra, old industrial sites have been put to a new use. Textile, food, lighting, automotive and furniture businesses operate in the town and its vicinity. International corporations have also come to the zone. Among them are Takata Petri and Dr. Schneider, both of which operate in the automotive sector, and SOPP, a manufacturer of decorative goods.

The district of Nowogrodziec has seen the most spectacular developments. Over 1,000 people are already employed in this part of the zone. The largest investor is the Bauer publishing group, which has one of Europe's largest printing houses in Nowogrodziec. Metal-sector companies Lovink, Novoferm-Door and Weber-Hydraulik are also among the investors in this subzone.

What attracts investors to the zone? For example, how did you manage to enlist Toyota Boshoku, a powerful strategic investor in Lower Silesia?
When choosing a new investment location, every investor takes several factors into account. Of special importance is good access to transport routes, especially freeways, the availability of qualified labor, and the presence of prospective business partners and markets for the company's products. Additionally, the Kamienna Góra Special Economic Zone for Medium Business offers income tax concessions. In many cases, local governments wanting to attract investors offer them real estate tax exempts, too. Nowogrodziec is a perfect site that meets all these requirements. The zone is only 300 meters as the crow flies from the A4 freeway. Apart from providing excellent connections to other parts of Europe, the freeway makes it possible for local workers to get to their workplaces fast. Toyota Boshoku was looking for a location for its new project for over a year before it chose our zone. We largely owe this to the commitment of our whole staff.

How many businesses operate in the zone and what are your plans for the future?
There are 44 businesses in the zone. Among them are both small businesses that provide employment to just a few workers and large companies that employ almost 1,000 people. Our development plans are largely focused on stimulating business in counties in southwestern Poland. Many sites within the zone are located closer to Germany and the Czech Republic than to the city of Wrocław, the capital of our province. We want to take advantage of this natural potential. An additional argument is the availability of labor, especially for manufacturing jobs.

There are undeniable advantages resulting from investing in smaller towns. In such places, workers often strongly identify themselves with "their" plant, which is often located just a few hundred meters from their homes. Statistics confirm this fact. We have plants where employee turnover accounts for no more than 3 percent of the workforce.

Specjalna Strefa Ekonomiczna Małej Przedsiębiorczo¶ci S.A.
(Special Economic Zone for Medium Business)
ul. Papieża Jana Pawła II 11A, 58-400 Kamienna Góra, Poland

Szymon Madera, 34, married with one child. In 2000, he graduated from the Wrocław University of Economics Regional Economy and Tourism Department in Jelenia Góra. From February 2003 to November 2005, he worked for PM Poland SA as a sales specialist and then until March 2007 as a sales manager. From March 2007 to June 2007, Madera was a member of the management board of the Special Economic Zone for Medium Business in Kamienna Góra. In June 2007 he became the zone's chairman.
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