The production areas of Harju County are cooperating to find investors
Thanks to the PATEE program, the Harjumaa Enterprise and Development Center (HEAK), established by the local governments of Harju County, has set the goal of mapping the potential production areas of Harju County in order to create a common value-based image for bringing industrial investments to the region.
In recent years, HEAK has been actively evaluating and mapping the production areas of four Harju County regions – the cities of Paldiski and Keila and the municipalities of Saue and Harku in order to make the region more attractive to industrial investors.
Already in 2017, HEAK started a pilot project in Paldiski – at that time, in cooperation with the Paldiski Association of Entrepreneurs (PEL), it was tested how to increase the value in the eyes of investors by focusing on one specific region. However, even before this project, it had been realized that due to Estonia’s small size, in order to attract interest from foreign and large investors, the country as a whole must first be sold and introduced, and only then can a more detailed offer be made for a specific region.
Cooperation between the state and businesses
Until now, we have had a situation where the state and entrepreneurs have not kept pace with their activities and goals, entrepreneurs have been left relatively alone, so everyone has had to do their own thing. The advantage of Paldiski here has been the fact that a strong association of entrepreneurs in its area has been operating there for many years – the Paldiski Association of Entrepreneurs, through which the voice of a businessman reaches more politically than decision-makers.
Ly Lepik, HEAK’s industrial investment project manager, who was also a member of the Paldiski Association of Entrepreneurs for many years, notes that the value of the region increases as local entrepreneurs are able to work together.
Under the leadership of HEAK, a working group has been operating for two years now, where the Riigikogu, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Foreign Investment Center (VIK), landowners and business representatives meet around the so-called round table to discuss what we need industrial investment for and how. get them here.
“Today, we have reached a common understanding that we need to change our national strategy to effectively support manufacturing companies,” says Ly Lepik. “In order to remain competitive with other countries, we need to review possible new support measures in cooperation with the state. For comparison, we bring Finland, where there are very strong state measures for energy, and so on. Manufacturing is the backbone of any economically strong country. ”
Lepik would like to thank the leaders of the local governments of the four regions who understand the importance of cooperation and contribute to the development of entrepreneurship. “The role of local governments in ensuring success is very important,” he notes. “Each region is developing at its own pace and long-term visions and development plans support the smooth running of all parties.”
Upcoming national programs
Lepik knows that the Enterprise and Innovation Foundation (EISA, former Enterprise Estonia) is also developing a new strategic package of support measures for the industrial sector, which should be completed this year. Ly Lepik says that when a foreign country inquires about local investment opportunities, the answers to them are compiled for all production regions, highlighting the strengths and opportunities of each region. He says that so far the state has taken more care of the production areas of Virumaa, but each project is being reviewed separately and the state has not said that certain benefits could not be given to Harju County either.
“We have decided that the industrial parks will no longer compete internally, but we will be happy if the investment comes to our region and we look for possible coherence in the value chain, from which everyone could benefit,” notes Lepik. “We realize that we are so small on a global scale that we have to act as a common front for the slightest success.”
Distances are feared in Estonia
But why are new production buildings still being erected in Tänassilma and Jüri, and not in Keila or Paldiski? Ly Lepik thinks that one reason may be the workforce, because our perception of distances is different from what it is in countries beyond the border – we have 50 kilometers to go to work, in some countries it is considered perfectly normal to cover 200 kilometers to get to work.
“There is a fear in the company’s executives that there will be no more employees within 50 kilometers of the capital. At the same time, maybe more work needs to be done to find the necessary educated people, ”Lepik discusses. “It is also the task of our working group to find our so-called inner golden keys before we invite anyone to land here. The quality of the living environment in the area plays an important role. ”
The living environment must not stand in the way of time
In Harju County, especially in Paldiski, the stories of the arrival of new residential areas on the market are not to be commended. At the same time, investors are already interested in this in their inquiries.
Should a large company come here with its team of engineers, their first question is – where will these engineers live here, what can they do in their spare time and what is the on-site living infrastructure. However, if the family needs to send the child to an English-language school, the person coming to work here can only do so in Tallinn.
The local community wants answers to their questions
Work must also be done with the local community. Ly Lepik admits that the community often does not realize the value of the industry coming to the region – people are afraid of change and it is believed that change will necessarily mean some negative effects.
More needs to be done to find the educated people needed for entrepreneurship in all regions.
“It simply came to our notice then. It is necessary to consistently explain the value that the creation of an industrial company gives to the region, how each person will specifically benefit from it, ”says Lepik. “Working with the community is like changing the behavior of an organization – it is a long-term and consistent activity, explanation, justification. The younger generation already understands the need for development, but older people are used to living the way they have lived for years and decades and do not want change. ”
Ly Lepik also points out the Keila area, which, like Paldiski, is a well-located industrial area where many important companies have already established themselves. However, the future of Saue and Harku will probably grow gradually with Tallinn, which has essentially already happened. At the same time, the difference between the rental prices of production land and commercial premises compared to the capital is still significantly in favor of these municipalities.
Each company has its own specific requirements for the production area
“The direction of the business still plays a big role in the choice of the region – if there are a lot of shipping goods, ports are important, etc.,” says Ly Lepik. “Future developments also play an important role. That’s why I see that all four regions have opportunities to have their own success stories, we just need to highlight those specific benefits and opportunities. ”
In the early days of March, the so-called landing page for investors, investinharju.eu, which provides a comprehensive overview of industrial areas, was made available to everyone.