Project Assists Development of Brownfield Locations to Attract Investment
April 19, 2013 - Supported by the Project, the city of Nis has established a working group, headed by the deputy mayor, for the revitalization of five brownfield locations and adopted an interim action plan. Earlier this year, the Project provided support in defining legal, institutional, economic and technical preconditions for re-development of these sites. Possible re-development options include a plan for structural conversion of facilities (keeping their industrial profiles but rearranging the capital structure), functional conversion (changing the industrial function of the brownfield site) or just protection measures for highly polluted areas.
Additionally, the remaining local government partners in the Nis- and Vranje- led inter-municipal cooperation areas (covering an additional eight municipalities) have utilized Project assistance to preliminarily define 23 brownfield locations for possible development. Project experts will provide restructuring recommendations for these sites and develop a catalogue of selected brownfield locations to attract targeted investment.
Round-tables Highlight Potential Public-Private Partnerships
April 9 & 11, 2013 - Last week the Project and its implementing partner, the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED), held two businesses-to-government roundtables to initiate dialogue on public-private partnerships (PPP) aiming to help local authorities increase efficiency and spur job creation, despite limited local budgets. Since 2011, there has been a favorable legal framework governing PPPs in Serbia but not much interest among municipalities due to a lack of expertise. The two events presented PPP potentials to improve various utility services and infrastructure in local communities. NALED will ultimately help develop eight most feasible and impact oriented PPPs.
The first PPP roundtable was held on April 9th in Novi Sad (gathering ten LG partners from three Project supported inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) areas, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Health), where healthcare sector PPPs were of particular interest.
The second roundtable was held on April 11th in Kraljevo (gathering thirteen LG partners from three Project supported IMC areas as well as representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development). Participants in Kraljevo were mostly interested in recycling and public transportation PPPs. Out of 32 local governments, the best eight ideas will receive technical assistance for implementation of PPPs. An investor conference will also be organized in November, to introduce LGs with potential private partners. A third roundtable is planned for April 16, in Nis (gathering the remaining 9 Project IMC area partners).
Connecting employers and youth to increase employment
April 10, 2013 - Project partner civil society organization Belgrade Open School (BOS) has organized a roundtable to connect employers and high school students, facilitate an exchange of information and help students learn about the jobs and business skills currently in demand. The roundtable also allayed the many dilemmas that young people have concerning finding employment in their communities. Participating employers invited interested youths to visit their companies through job shadowing visits, volunteer work and possible internships.
The event, held at the Novi Pazar Youth Office, was attended by more than ten representatives of small and medium-sized companies from Novi Pazar, representatives from secondary schools in Novi Pazar and Sjenica (students, practical training organizers, educators and psychologists), representatives of the National Employment Service and the Sjenica and Novi Pazar Youth Offices. This activity was organized as part of SLDP and BOS support to local mobile career guidance teams which aim to improve information services about career counseling for young people, enable better coordination of activities in this field and unify existing resources at the local and inter-municipal levels.
Food Sector Analysis Begins in Three Inter-Municipal Cooperation Areas to Attract New Investments and Increase Export
April 1-10, 2013 - As part of a drive to expand the private sector and create jobs, the Project has initiated an analysis of the potential for growing the food processing industry in partner communities.
To accomplish the anaylisis, the Project engaged an international expert to examine the strengths and capabilities of the Serbian food sector and make recommendations aimed at growing value-added food processing. The expert met with approximately sixty representatives of over twenty different food companies, processors, associations, and individual owners/farmers from the Nis, Subotica and Zrenjanin -led Inter-Municipal Cooperation (IMC) Areas (encompassing 11 cities and municipalities). These communities have processing potential thanks to their geographic location and agricultural tradition.
Some of the initial impressions of the analysis highlight the potential for growth in the dried, pureed, or concentrated fruit industry. Further research will also be carried out to determine the viability of packaging honey for Russia and other export markets. A similar opportunity exists for jarred/dried vegetables and mushrooms which could yield some excellent results. Despite existing challenges to growing a successful, vibrant value-added food processing industry, SLDP intends to marry Serbia's rich agricultural traditions with the necessary food processing business expertise in order to attract investment into targeted IMC areas.
New Round of Career Guidance Training to Reduce Youth Unemployment
April 5, 2013 - The Project began the first of three career guidance development training programs in the Novi Sad-led Inter-Municipal Cooperation area (encompassing four municipalities) to improve young people’s school-to-work transition.
Due to shortcomings in the Serbian education system, students often do not know how to manage their own careers or how to match personal interests and skills with the existing labor market demands. A Project-supported labor skills gap analysis, performed by the National Employment Service (NES) in 2012, showed that even when perspective employers are willing to hire youth, the young people seeking jobs often lack the required skills. Career information and counseling also helps youth to become aware of diverse career paths that can be realistically pursued, leading to personal benefit and economic self-sufficiency.
Participants of the Project-organized training were high school psychologists and pedagogues from Novi Sad, Sremski Karlovci, Temerin and Beocin, representatives of NES and youth offices. The training strengthened the participants’ career guidance skills to better match the interests and education of youth with the existing labor market needs.
Vladicin Han Officials trained in EU Grant Application Procedures to Secure More Funding for Local Economic Development
April 4, 2013 - From April 2-4, at the request of the mayor of Vladicin Han, Project experts provided a three-day training program covering EU grant application procedures to local government officials and technical staff.
The training was attended by 18 participants, mainly local economic development office staff and sector-oriented youth from Vladicin Han, who acquired or improved their knowledge on procedures and documentation for EU-funding. The participants were also introduced to Project Cycle Management methodology, and applied their skills through practical hands-on work.
Throughout the training, the Project guided local government participants towards realistic, economically sustainable projects, stressing the need for cooperation in order to maximize the applicants' chances of being grated funding for development initiatives at the upcoming EU call for proposals.
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.