Bela Palanka is a place that ensures an increasingly better quality life for citizens through the creation of a favourable business climate and the construction of infrastructure. This municipality’s Sustainable Development Strategy defines industry, agriculture and tourism as its pillars of economic development
TGRS is a company that will employ 100 workers in Bela Palanka in the first phase of its investment cycle, then in the second phase – in January 2022 – it will launch production activities at a new factory in the “Murica 1” industrial zone. According to Bela Palanka’s municipal leader, another 250 citizens will be employed at this factory.
You have seriously committed yourself to enticing investors and leading the economic recovery of Bela Palanka. Have better days finally arrived for your municipality?
– Using all available resources, as well as our good strategic position – given that Corridor 10 passes through the municipality, as well as a first class state road covering a distance of 32 kilometres – we strive to achieve economic progress.
In terms of industrial development, today we have the Murica 1 and Murica 2 industrial zones, encompassing a total area of 13 hectares in close proximity to Corridor 10, as well as two brownfield locations where companies Trendtex and TGRS operate. There are large investments on the territory of the municipality in the area of renewable energy sources, so we have two mini-hydro power plants installed on the River Nišava, while preparations for the construction of three more are underway. We help entrepreneurs directly by allocating funds for the implementation of self-employment and new employment programmes.
We have made great progress in agriculture thanks to land consolidation. We have already attracted investors, so today we have about 50 hectares of cherry orchards, quince trees covering 10 ha, 1000 ha of immortelle plants, 30 ha of lavender and other medicinal herbs covering an area of 32 ha. We are the first municipality in Serbia to start granting subsidies to young people wanting to engage in agriculture and remain in rural areas.
Our commitment to the goal of tourism becoming a driver of economic development is shown by the results of the 2019 Banica Days event, which was visited by more than 40,000 tourists. Thanks to the large number of visitors, our priority will be to construct accommodation capacities that are lacking. We will continue investing in tourism infrastructure and will work on the development of rural tourism.
We have two mini-hydro power plants installed on the River Nišava, while preparations for the construction of three more are underway
After the arrival of Trendtex, you secured another investor in the form of Austrian company TGM Services, which will produce vehicle steering wheels in Bela Palanka. Tell us more about this…
– In creating conditions for the arrival of new investors, we repurchased the plant of the former Femid factory a few years ago. We completed the reconstruction of the facility, investing a total of around a million euros, and leased it to a new investor, TGRS, for the opening of an auto parts factory. The Municipality of Bela Palanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the new investor, according to which 100 workers will be employed in the first phase of the investment cycle. In the second phase, to be implemented by the end of 2021, company TGRS will build a factory in the Murica 1 industrial zone, where production will start in January 2022 and 250 people from Bela Palanka will be employed.
Bela Palanka is part of the IRE network, which currently encompasses more than 120 regions, cities and municipalities… How important is that for small and underdeveloped municipalities like yours?
– The Municipality of Bela Palanka has been a member of the Institute of European Regions since 2014, which provides us with logistical support, enables us to be present at conferences to exchange experiences and promotes education through examples of good practice. We are networked with municipalities from European countries via the IRE to ensure the successful application of all European standards, which is of great importance given that our country is in the process of integrating into the EU.