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Fair Play municipality attracts investors

     
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Fair Play municipality attracts investors

Almost 2.5 thousand Polish municipalities compete to attract the most interesting investments. They allow reducing unemployment and providing tax revenues to local budgets. One way to stand out in the eyes of investors is to show them the certificate of "Fair Play Municipality" – Certified Investment Location.

In October, the Foundation "Institute for Private Enterprise and Democracy" of the Polish Chamber of Commerce for the 14th time awarded 17 municipalities with the title of  Gmina Fair Play ("Fair Play Municipality" 2015). These municipalities were awarded for well thought-out and long-term development strategies and professional approach to investors.
 
The main goal of "Fair Play Municipality" – Certified Investment Location is to promote these local governments among Polish and foreign investors that create conditions for development, are open to new investments, and guarantee reliable service in a business friendly atmosphere. Municipalities are awarded in 5 different categories: rural agro municipality, rural multifunctional municipality, village and small town, medium town, large city, tourist destination. The competition is addressed to local governments that encourage local development, at the same time ensuring its adaptation to the conditions and needs of the community.

- Implementation of this strategy is intended as a long-term process, and success depends on honesty, efficient support of investors and inhabitants, and open social dialogue – explains Mieczysław Bąk, PhD, Chairman of the Nationwide "Fair Play Municipality" competition.

Municipalities participating in the contest can win special prizes. This year's Main Prize – statuette, was awarded by the Jury to Lesznowola, Mszczonów, and Tarczyn. The city of Bełchatów and municipalities Błonie and Kleszczewo won honourable mentions. The Gold Statuette, for winning the certificate five times in a row, was awarded to Kozienice municipality, and the Certificate of Gold Business Location was awarded to Bełchatów and Góra Kalwaria municipalities. The following municipalities won the Fair Play Municipality Certificates: Brwinów, Dywity, Kaczory, Międzylesie, Płużnica, Strzałkowo, Tryńcza, Żelazków.

Two stages, weak and strong points

Municipalities participating in the competition are evaluated in two stages. During the first stage of the contest, questionnaires are assessed in which municipalities carry out self-assessments of their activities and present their accomplishments and future plans.

During the second stage, the selected auditors verify the data by conducting audits in the municipalities. In addition, a random sample of investors, who invested or still invest in a municipality applying for the certificate, is examined. The data obtained during audits and examinations of investors serve as a basis for a benchmarking report that is received by all the participants during the second stage.

- This report contains, among others, an evaluation of the municipality in relation to other participants. It is a rich source of knowledge for local governments when it comes to their strengths and weaknesses, it provides information about efficient areas that meet high standards and about areas that need to be corrected in order to serve investors and inhabitants in an effective and friendly manner. The benchmarking report and the results of the examination are a valuable, external, and objective source of information about the quality of investor support – says Anna Szcześniak, Member of the Commission of the Nationwide "Fair Play Municipality" contest.

The sum of ratings granted by the auditors and investors decides about awarding the "Fair Play Municipality" Certificate.

Prestige and a key differentiator for municipalities

Participation in one of the oldest Polish local self-government certification programs means prestige and promotional opportunities for municipalities. Each winner has the right to use the logo of "Fair Play Municipality" in promotional and business activities, for example: on websites, leaflets, special road signs. In addition, the organisers ensure that investors have the opportunity to know the awarded municipalities.

- The participants and winners are presented at numerous industry events, in which local self-governments, entrepreneurs, and investors are present. Fair Play municipalities are recommended as trustworthy partners to the winners of the Fair Play Company competition – during the final ceremony, but also at regional meetings and industrial meetings of the winners of both competitions. Each year more than a dozen meetings take place in different parts of Poland – says Mieczysław Bąk, PhD.

This recognizable logo attracts the attention of investors and supports building a positive image of the municipality. The certificate is a confirmation of a high level of competencies, tested and evaluated by entrepreneurs, investors, and auditors. In conjunction with the assessment contained in the benchmarking report, it constitutes a strong argument in business negotiations.

- Thanks to the title of "Fair Play Municipality" we are perceived differently in the economic environment. In the eyes of potential investors we are more attractive and we give them a clear signal that Płużnica municipality is the right place to invest. This is particularly useful when conducting talks with companies interested in locating in Płużnicki Park Inwestycyjny (Płużnica Investment Park), built along A1 highway – says Marcin Skonieczka, the Head of Płużnica municipality.

- Having the certificate gives Mszczonów municipality the position among the best self-governments in Mazowieckie. The certificate shows that our actions bring tangible benefits to the municipality, its inhabitants, but also entrepreneurs who invest here. It is also a confirmation of professionalism, competences, and efficiency of our administrative staff – says Józef Grzegorz Kurek, Mayor of Mszczonów.

Local governments more aware of the needs of investors

After 14 editions of the contest we can observe that municipalities change their attitudes toward promotion and cooperation with investors. Access to information is a visible change. Municipalities have information websites, where they publish, for example, news about completed, ongoing, and planned investments, and they publish maps of investment areas and current land-use plans. In addition, local governments try to use the tools at their disposal to improve their attractiveness in the eyes of investors. Many introduce, for example, tax advantages for investors, organize meetings with local entrepreneurs, or work towards the development of the local labour market.

- It is worth noting that more and more municipalities have current land-use plans that cover all or part of the investment areas. Municipalities also invest in the development of infrastructure – roads, sewer systems, and utilities – thanks to which investors have access to fully equipped areas. The approach to investors also changes. It is friendlier, administrative workers are better trained and can helph throughout the process of investment and after its completion. Many municipalities introduced, for example, investment supervisors to facilitate the cooperation with authorities. It is obvious that local governments are more aware and that investments mean new work places and profits that supply the budget in the form of taxes – says Anna Szcześniak.

Municipalities learn to consciously create the brand of their local governments as business partners, and they put more emphasis on credibility and promotion. They look for reliable tips and models that are worth following, which they use to promote sustainable development.

- The fourth title of "Fair Play Municipality" - Certified Investment Location grants Płużnica municipality prestigious place among local governments that actively undertake promotional and financial activities aimed at attracting investors. Last year, Płużnica municipality received the title of "Gold Business Location". The certificate is all the more pleasing, because it is a result of the objective and external assessment of our activities associated with enhancing cooperation with entrepreneurs. The award gives many reasons for satisfaction, but it also obliges to further actions. That is why we are convinced that the work of entire office, supported by the approval of the locals, will be translated into the development of our municipality – concludes Commune Head of Skonieczka.

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