“Attracting investors is not an easy job. You cannot buy them in a grocery store, you need to seriously create the conditions for their arrival”
Pirot is a city now recognised as having one of the most stable local budgets, rising employment rates and steady wage growth. Mayor of Pirot Vladan Vasić says that the road to these results was neither fast nor easy, but he points out several positive factors that made this progress possible.
– First of all, the investment of a large multinational Michelin, through modernisation of the existing factory in Pirot, where around EUR 100 million was invested over 7-8 years, and through the construction of a new factory in which EUR 250 million was invested.
A large number of construction companies and other associated companies found work as subcontractors here, and after the factory opened 500 new workers were directly employed. An additional contribution to employment is that Michelin procures on the market transport of goods and people, security, cleaning, maintenance and catering. Besides this, there is also the construction of Corridor 10.
The local government has contributed to the growth in employment and creation of a sound economic environment through its budget, cooperation with ministries, cross-border cooperation projects and collaboration with donors. We should not ignore a massive influx of tourists from Bulgaria and an increase in the number of overnight stays per year by 13,000.
Pirot was once known as the “Serbian Manchester”. When you say today that new industrialisation is happening in your city, how far is that from or close to the level of development and investment from the period of identification with Manchester?
– The nickname Serbian Manchester, which described our city while there was a powerful textile industry Prvi maj, unfortunately, stopped being used with the closure of this giant and after unsuccessful privatisation. Nevertheless, efforts by the local government to create a better environment for investors in recent years have brought several serious textile manufacturing companies to Pirot.
The recipe for success is to spend as much as we earn, that is why we are not in deficit but run a budget surplus
The purchase of the AHA Mura Prvi maj plants by the well-known Italian company Miroglio will mean a lot to the renewal of the textile industry and growth in employment. Merkatus tesktil and several smaller factories are also working successfully. I would also mention the Bulgarian Pirteks which invested over EUR 300,000. The present situation cannot be compared to that of the former Yugoslavia for many reasons, but what we have achieved is impressive.
Pirot has a well-developed industrial zone and has offered attractive business conditions for investors. However, you have argued that for investors to come, and above all to stay in the long term, one zone is not enough. What do you consider sufficient or optimal conditions for someone to decide to invest, employ, grow their business, bring the family and stay in Pirot?
– General and local political stability and the efficiency of local government are very important. Also, the development of infrastructure for industrial zones with access to water, electricity, sewerage, roads, and proximity to the airport is especially important.
There are also state and local incentives and a motivated workforce. For an investor who wants to come here the quality of life in the city outside working hours is very important. In addition to all this, the Customs Free Zone, a large multinational company, also operates successfully in Pirot, which in itself is proof that Pirot is a good investment location. We want Pirot to achieve European standards in every aspect.