The Project and Local Civil Society Organizations Promote Inter-municipal Cooperation as Tool for Economic Growth
April 1, 2013 - On March 29th with the Project support, civil society organizations (CSOs), the Education Center (from Leskovac), and Proaktiv (from Nis) organized a regional conference to present local and EU pre-accession sources of funding for potential economic development projects and good-practice examples for IMC. The need for cooperation among local governments is becoming imperative as donor funding increasingly targets regional use.
Participants included two mayors as well as public and private sector representatives. They called for greater inter-city and inter-municipal cooperation among the smaller South Serbia municipalities of Merosina, Doljevac and Gadzin Han, and the cities of Leskovac and Nis. The conference served to strengthen the IMC partnership and to enhance the area's potential to win future donor and private sector investments.
Last year, the project assisted its IMC partners (through the Center for the Development of Jablanica and Pcinja districts' Regional Development Agency covering South Serbia) to develop a successful application for EU Cross-Border-Cooperation funds to increase the competitiveness of regional furniture clusters.
Increased Business Skills of Youths Across Novi Pazar, Uzice and Vranje-led Inter-municipal Cooperation (IMC) Areas
March 29, 2013 - The Project supported civil society organization Group 484 in holding two-day business training programs for 50 youths in the Novi Pazar, Uzice and Vranje-led IMC areas (encompassing 12 municipalities).
The workshops enabled students to learn about business planning, and taught them how to utilize these newly acquired skills to define their products and markets, to create successful management and operational models, as well as how to prepare financial plans. The training also provided an opportunity for the young people to network and share their experiences and ideas.
Participating students will now develop business plans, the best of which will receive favorable start-up loans through Group 484 and the UniCredit Foundation, with priority given to initiatives that include vulnerable groups of young people.
Through Group 484, the Project helps young people make use of all available financial and non-financial support, and assists youth in establishing enterprises with the help of mentorship guidance by international and local experts.
Economic Program to Expand Regional Agribusiness and Increase Employment launched in Subotica
March 27, 2013 - The Project and representatives of three Vojvodina municipalities, Subotica, Sombor and Kanjiza, signed agreements for the joint implementation of an economic program that aims to increase domestic sales and exports of agricultural products, and generate new jobs.
The Project will assist Subotica in equipping a laboratory that will test food for quality-control, and as needed for export licenses.
In Sombor, the Project will support the establishment of a training center for farmers, while Kanjiza will be assisted with a study on supply and demand for setting up a logistic and distribution center for agricultural goods.
In addition, the Project will support producers through the application process for geographical certificates of origin in order to better brand and market their regional produce.
This economic program will benefit agricultural producers and processors from the entire IMC area, increasing regional competitiveness, enabling agribusiness expansion, and creating new jobs in the sector.
The launch event was attended by representatives of the Serbian Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SIEPA), Province of Vojvodina Secretaries (for agriculture and for inter-regional cooperation), mayors of Subotica, Kanjiza, and Sombor, regional agriculture extension services, institutes for public health and media.
Assistance for the development of University in Uzice to increase regional competitiveness and curb youth outmigration
March 25, 2013 - The Project has begun a study to review the demand for and guide the
establishment of a University in Uzice. The study is being carried out by the
Center for Education Policy (CEP).
As part of Project's support to economic growth
activities, the Uzice-led IMC Area
(encompassing the city of Uzice and municipalities of Cajetina, Nova
Varos, Prijepolje and Priboj) has identified the establishment
of a University as one of their key priorities to help equip local youth
with skills demanded by regional employers and decrease youth outmigration.
This assessment will examine the current
state of education in the Zlatiborski region (which covers the entire IMC Area
as well as four additional municipalities), analyze current and future work
force needs of prospective employers, identify the educational programs needed to address the demand for a qualified work force in key sectors
of the regional economy, and will estimate the overall regional economic benefit of
establishing a University in the region.
The final study will be presented
to Uzice-led IMC Area decision makers and high education national stakeholder
groups ensuring that it becomes a
sustainable institution able to provide employers with a qualified local
workforce, enabling job growth and curbing youth outmigration.
Project supports Best Youth Business Ideas
Selection panel in Novi Sad
March 21, 2013 - With the Project support, the Youth Business Serbia (YBS) program has selected the 25 most feasible business plans from a pool of 136 applications from four inter-municipal cooperation areas, covering 17 municipalities throughout Serbia.
YBS program partners held selection panels in Novi Sad, Subotica, Kraljevo and Nis. This program offers a comprehensive package for the selected youth, including various trainings before and after the establishment of their business, mentorship support, as well as access to favorable credit lines.
All 25 finalists will be assisted to find funding for the implementation of their business plans from Erste Bank, the National Employment Service (NES) or other financial resources.
YBS partner Erste Bank will consider selected plans for financing within a special credit line intended for young start-ups that offers lower interest rates with no collateral or guarantee needed.
Youth Business Serbia was launched as a partnership initiative between Smart Kolektiv, Erste Bank and NES, with support from USAID’s Sustainable Local Development Project and the Serbian Ministry of Youth and Sports.
USAID Project supports young entrepreneurs in their efforts to start their own business and to decrease youth unemployment.
Supply and demand assistance to tap inter-municipal cooperation area investment potentials
March 20, 2013 - In support of inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) area economic development, the Project has begun several studies aimed at increasing business revenues and adding jobs across partner municipalities. These studies will assist IMC areas by examining the demand for a food processing industry, as well as exploring the supply-side capacity for establishing two agribusiness centers.
Through reviewing the demand for processed foods from the Nis, Zrenjanin and Subotica-led IMC areas (encompassing 11 municipalities), the Project will research economically viable production options for agricultural processors and will provide recommendations on how to attract targeted buyers and make improvements to meet this demand.
The Project will also support the Subotica and Nis-led IMC Areas in performing an analysis of the supply-side capacity for establishment of two agriculture-related centers: an Agribusiness Logistical Center in Kanjiza and a Green Zone Center in Leskovac. Through the Logistics Center, the Subotica-led IMC Area (of which Kanjiza is an integral part) aims to increase sales of agricultural products in the next three years. In the Leskovac-led IMC Area, the partner municipalities will be supported in establishing a Green Zone (Processing, Storage and Distribution Agribusiness Center).
These IMC agribusiness programs will result in additional sustainable employment in the region and create the preconditions for agriculture-driven regional economic growth.
Promoting Inter-Municipal Cooperation and mentoring among cities and municipalities, to attract investments and generate jobs
March 11, 2013 - Last week,
the Project and the City of Uzice agreed that Uzice, as one of the few local
governments in Serbia which has successfully completed public asset
inventorying, will undertake a mentoring role and lead smaller and less
advanced municipalities in Central and Southern Serbia in cataloguing their public assets.
In accordance with the new
Public Property Law, municipalities are obliged to register their immovable
property, as an important first step towards the improved usage of these assets for economic
development – investment attraction and increased employment.
With the Project's expert support, the City of Uzice will prepare, organize and host two-day
visits in late April and early May for representatives of four municipalities
from two different Inter-Municipal Cooperation areas, led by Nis and Vranje. Acting as the mentor-city,
Uzice will showcase its organizational set-up for asset management; including its
action plan, the ordinances passed and the software system used by the city for
asset inventorying and management. Uzice will also provide necessary advisory
support and guidance to municipalities included in the mentoring process.
this activity, SLDP will ensure a wide transfer of technical and administrative
knowledge, experience and know-how among partner cities and municipalities,
necessary for accelerating their economic development.
Suggestions made by Project experts accepted by the Serbian Government in the new Law on Incentives in Agriculture and Rural Development
February 28, 2013 - In 2012, the Project, together with a group of municipal
experts from Subotica and Nis-led Inter-municipal Cooperation areas, prepared a
comprehensive list of amendments to the Draft Law on Incentives in Agriculture
and Rural Development and participated in a public discussion organized by the official
proponent of the Draft Law - Serbian Ministry of Agriculture.
Several proposed amendments
were included in the final version of the Draft, which was accepted by the
Government of Serbia in late December 2012, adopted by the National Assembly, and entered into force in February 2013. Two important contributions, aiming to
support small and medium agro-food producers, were to limit the size of the
agricultural holding that is entitled to receive subsidies - to 100 hectares
maximum, and to define state subsidies for milk producer more precisely.
new Law will create much-needed stability and predictability of state aid for
agriculture and rural development, provide a favorable climate for
investors in agriculture, improve the competitiveness of Serbian agriculture
and provide a higher level of compliance with EU legislation.
A Public-Private Partnership (PPP) support initiative launched, to equip local governments with knowledge and skills needed to establish efficient PPPs and generate new jobs
February 25, 2013 - The Project and NALED launched a joint public-private partnership (PPP) initiative, aiming to identify feasible PPP models in all eight Project's partner Inter-Municipal Cooperation (IMC) areas, encompassing 32 municipalities throughout Serbia.
In the next twelve months, through a Project grant, NALED will bring potential investors to IMC partnerships and assist local governments to identify, implement and sustain impact-oriented PPP projects. These initiatives will create opportunities for additional jobs and investments in local communities.
At the kick-off event the Head of the State Commission for PPP emphasized the importance of cooperation between the public and private sector for local economic development as municipal budgets are limited. Municipalities expressed particular interest in partnerships that would stimulate health and wellness tourism in Serbian spas, in joint public-private revitalization of brownfield locations, as well as agriculture-related PPPs. USAID Bussiness Enabling Project representatives presented the „Value for money“ methodology, which can serve as a basis to develop a quality PPP project.
The launch was held in Belgrade and attended by representatives of 14 local governments, state secretaries from two ministries (Regional Development and Health), representatives of the Serbia Bank Association, consulting and business development experts.
Five Economic Forums held to mobilize partners to jointly work on accelerating economic growth and increasing employment
February 22, 2013 - Project organized five Economic Forums in the Sandzak, West and South Serbia regions, to present criteria for selection of economic programs which the Project will support in the next two years. These programs focus on strengthening the private sector and job creation.
Representatives of the public, private and civil sectors from 22 municipalities also learned of relevant best-practice examples from the Czech Republic, such as: how Inter-Municipal Cooperation advances the growth of innovation and business clusters, enables efficient Industrial Zone development and facilitates establishment of public-private partnerships.
In each IMC area, one local partner institution/organization presented the progress in the economic development of the region and outlined key challenges for further growth and job generation.
Forums were held in Bujanovac, Nis, Uzice, Kraljevo and Novi Pazar and attended by 136 representatives of local governments (including 8 Mayors), businesses and civil sector organizations. USAID Mission Director and EGO Director attended the Forum in Novi Pazar.