The past decade has been marked by rapid development and prosperity for the city of Leskovac. This is not only a result of new investment but also of innovation and of the city’s participation in many projects.
The City of Leskovac recently received recognition from NALED for its contribution to improving the business environment. What did Leskovac do to deserve this prestigious recognition?
– Since my team and I took over, we have tried to develop Leskovac as a city with a good business environment. This has been shown by Jeanci, Health Actavis, Jura, Mita, Fungo jug, Cukljenik and many other companies expanding their production in our city.
The City of Leskovac was among the first to approach the certification process in 2008 when we signed a Cooperation Agreement on the Business Friendly Certification Programme. From that day to this, we have worked continuously to meet the criteria for the City to receive that coveted certificate.
Creating an attractive and favourable business “climate” does not mean only providing financial incentives to investors, although the City of Leskovac has done a lot to provide financial support to both domestic and foreign investors. In addition, we hold regular meetings with businesspeople and try to solve their problems to ease their operations.
With the help of the Serbian Government, we have already bought two bankrupt companies, DP Jugekspres and DP Sintetika, for which we set aside 70 million dinars. We have made them available free of charge to the Korean company Jura and the Turkish company Jeanci, which plan to expand and hire workers.
All requests of investors that have the status of an ‘investment of local importance’ are treated as a priority and resolved under urgent procedure
One of the attributes of Leskovac mentioned among investors is the reorganisation of city institutions and the creation of an efficient administration. What has specifically been done on that front?
– Implementation of regulatory reforms and the full implementation of the electronic registry of administrative procedures, as well as implementing the practice of issuing documents ex-officio a year before application of the “integrated procedure” – these are the best indicators of the organisation of the administration in our city.
In this way, we saved the economy 2.9 million euros annually in direct and indirect costs. In addition, the projects System 48 and E-Diaspora also function flawlessly.
You were the first in Serbia to apply the regional management of solid communal waste through a private-public partnership with the Austrian company Porr – Werner & Weber. What are the results of this project?
– First, we built the “Zeljkovac” regional sanitary landfill and recycling centre, with which we solved the long-standing problem of a lack of a suitable landfill. The rural local community in Jablanica District can now dispose of its waste in a legal and safe manner. It is worth noting that after the expiry of the 25-year contract, all buildings, equipment, machinery and vehicles will remain the property of the City of Leskovac.
With all of this, we have significantly raised the level of hygiene in the city and greatly relieved the budget, and in doing so we have also maintained an appropriate level of the cost of services for our citizens.
What are the plans for further preservation of a clean environment in the City of Leskovac?
– Environmental protection must be a priority of every local government, and it has always had an important place in our programme. The campaign of cleaning “wild” rubbish dumps, and landscaping public areas led to our cleaning more than 130 wild dumps and disposing of more than 3,000 tonnes of garbage. The construction of a water treatment plant in Bogojevac has been completed, worth a total of 10.4 million euros, for which the EU granted IPA financial support. In the period ahead we plan to invest all of our strength and available resources to build a city collector and enable this facility to start working.
In cooperation with the National Employment Service, the City of Leskovac implements numerous active employment policy measures, including subsidies for starting a business and creating new jobs
The German sock manufacturer Falke opened a factory in Leskovac last year. This investment envisages the employment of around 600 workers – how is it developing?
– The City of Leskovac strives to improve the business environment through constant reform of the city administration. One of the incentives the City offers investors is benefits when leasing construction land under public ownership. The City of Leskovac can make available or lease vacant plots at a price beneath the market value, or release construction land without charge for an investment project that will promote local economic development. We are aware that the key to the development of any city lies in a stable business environment with a stable economy, and that’s why we will continue to strive in the coming period to create better conditions for the influx of new investors and to keep existing ones.
What incentives the Leskovac offers to the existing and new investors?
– Between the two world wars Leskovac grew from a small provincial town into a modern industrial city. Due to its dynamic development and numerous textile factories, it gained the nickname “The Serbian Manchester”. Recalling this past motivates us and gives us the strength to strive and work to ensure our children live in a better environment and a more beautiful future. One of our priority projects will be the development of the Green Zone, the largest greenfield site on our territory covering a total area of 97 hectares, with 57 hectares equipped with infrastructure.
Without a developed infrastructure, there is no developed city. That’s why we’ve recently invested a lot in the construction and reconstruction of roads and streets in the centre of town and on the outskirts, but also in the villages. We will soon start construction of the town square, which will give the centre of Leskovac a completely new and modern look.
We are just waiting for the full completion of the new market, in which the city has invested 130 million dinars, and we hope that the newly-built dog home will soon be able to receive its first “residents”. Our plan also includes connecting 17 settlements to the sewage network via an ORIO programme.
Employment is the lifeblood of every city. And despite a fall in the number of unemployed by over three thousand in the past three and a half years, we are not satisfied. That’s why we expect swift completion of the factory being built by the company Jura, where thousands of new workers will be employed. Domestic investors are also a priority and for them, the doors of the city’s administration are always open.
We will also continue to invest in education and rewarding young talent because we want to ensure a bright future for young people and a city in which they will be able to work, live decent lives and establish their families.