Interview with Rafał Jurkowlaniec, President of the Special Economic Zone in Legnica.

The Special Economic Zone in Legnica plans to incorporate new investment areas. Where will they be incorporated?

We want our offer, which is addressed to potential investors, to be the best possible. Hence the project to incorporate approximately 650 hectares of investment areas to the Special Economic Zone in Legnica. The areas are located in Zgorzelec and Wrocław, and in municipalities: Iłowa, Jawor, Męcinka, Mięcnka, Radwanice, and Złotoryja. These are well selected and well connected areas and they supposed to be a magnet for companies wanting to develop their businesses in Lower Silesia. We are in a comfortable position, because we have many assets from the start, assets that other investment areas in Poland don't have. Convenient location at the meeting point of the German border and the Czech border, vast communication network, or access to specialized staff – that is why entrepreneurs are still willing to choose our region and they want to build their potential here.
Do you have investors already interested in these areas?

Currently, we are carrying out more than twenty investment projects. Some of them will end up with granting permits to operate in the Zone, but we will inform about the details of specific plots and their intended use only after the issuance of permits. What is certain is that the interest in investing in the Zone remains stable. The needs of investors, however, are changing. In addition to the plots with access to the associated infrastructure, such as utilities or roads, investors more and more often want to operate in areas with halls available for use. In this way they are able to save the time needed to start production. Therefore, adapting to their needs, we intend to implement this model in our Zone.

Do you plan to build such halls for rent? What will be their surface, where they will be built, and how many investors will be able to use them?

Ready to use halls is a project that we want to develop in all sub-areas of the Special Economic Zones in Legnica. We will take decisions about where and when they will arise together with our partners – local governments. This will depend on the expectations of potential investors and development plans of individual municipalities. The project to build halls already started in Głogów, where, together with the municipality, we established the company named Głogowski Park Technologiczny (Technology Park in Głogów). This company will prepare such "turnkey" objects for investors. The basic parameters of the halls are: 2.5 thousand sqm. of usable area and 400 sqm. of office area. Importantly, this project is not aimed at large corporations. We want small and medium-sized companies, especially those with Polish capital, to use them. There is still this idea that only large companies are welcomed in the Zone. That is not true. We will give companies space to develop their businesses and to facilitate their start. I am convinced that this will significantly increase our investment potential, activate the labour market, and contribute to the creation of local business incubators. The interest in ready-to-use production and storage spaces is huge.

How many permits do you plan to grant by the end of 2015 and which sectors will dominate?

By the end of this year we intend to grant a total of approximately 10 permits to operate in the Zone. Our offer is addressed to all industries that meet the criteria of Special Economic Zones. Statistics show that automotive and metal industries are the most willing to invest in our Zone. When it comes to the automotive industry, there are Sitech, Sanden, Faurecia, BSF, and of course Volkswagen Motor Poland. But three permits released this year are related to investments in the construction industry, transport and logistics. In order to get support from the Zone, the investor must declare, among others, capital expenditures of over 100 thousand EUR, have his own capital of at least 25% of the total cost of investment, and commit to operate in the Zone for at least 3-5 years.

The Zone is involved in the S3 - "The Road of Great Opportunities" project. How many areas around S3 the Zone has and what activities related to the project are planned?

The Special Economic Zone in Legnica is the initiator of the "S3 - The Road of Great Opportunities" project. Together with the Ministry of Economy, Special Economic Zones, and Polish local governments we are creating an area of investment activity along the S3 express way. This route is ready in some sections, other are under the process of designing and construction. This gives us time to prepare a special offer for prospective investors looking for the best communicated investment areas in the country. Our idea for the area along the S3 road covers attractive plots of land, the highest standard of investor support, competitiveness, and access to qualified staff. One of the assumptions of the project is to select investment areas. Currently, we are classifying such areas along with, among others, the Agriculture Property Agency.  Within the framework of the project we will prepare plots, incorporate them to the Zone, and equip them with the already mentioned halls, and together with local governments we will take care of additional infrastructure - roads, equipment, and networks. We will also support the campaign promoting the well-connected investment areas in the country and abroad.

Also the Lower Silesia Economic Activity Zone – subzone of the Special Economic Zone in Legnica – will be created in autumn. Why the Lower Silesia Economic Activity Zone will be created and what investors you hope to interest in these areas?

The Lower Silesia Economic Activity Zone (DSAG) is also part of the project "S3 – The Road of Great Opportunities". It will be located in two municipalities, Jawor and Męcinki, next to the constructed S3 road. It will be one of the largest and most attractive investment areas in Poland. Both large corporations and smaller companies will be able to invest on more than 460 hectares. There will be plenty of space. Importantly, the DSAG area will have its own exit from the new S3 road, leading directly to the investment plots. In addition, the zone will be well communicated with the rail. Jawor has its own direct rail line connecting Legnica and Jaworzyna Śląska. Because of these and other advantages of DSAG we have many inquiries about the possibility to invest in this area.

What kind of investments do you think Lower Silesia needs right now to increase its investment attractiveness?

Lower Silesia is famous for its rich industrial tradition and good investment climate. It is one of the fastest developing economic areas in Poland. Investors will find here everything their need to conduct business. The region attracts mainly the developing machine industry, automotive industry, and Business Process Outsourcing services. If Lower Silesia is to develop, we need to focus on modern technologies, knowledge transfer between science and business, and innovativeness of enterprises. All should be done on the basis of the assets available in this region.

You have been the President of the Special Economic Zone in Legnica for over a year now. How would you summarize the actions taken so far?

The last year was a time of many initiatives in the Zone. We managed to start many valuable projects, important not only for the Special Economic Zone in Legnica, but also for the entire region. On of them is the aforementioned project "S3 – The Road of Great Opportunities". In addition, we established three clusters: automotive, educational, and aviation, that connect the companies and institutions willing to cooperate in order to develop the automotive and aviation industry, and to develop a model of dual education suited to the needs of the labour market. It was also a time of intensive work associated with acquiring new investors for the Special Economic Zone in Legnica. We presented the first effects of these actions several days ago, when we granted permits to operate in the Zone to further entities. We are still improving the quality of investment areas by expanding technical infrastructure and roads. Our priorities are: the creation of new jobs and taking care of companies that already operate in the Special Economic Zone in Legnica. With them in mind, we created the institution of custodian, who represents the Zone, advises and supports, and is in constant contact with the company. We created the HR Club in order to take care of the employees of HR departments. It is a place where they can exchange their experiences, meet, and implement joint projects. Much work is still ahead of us. I will gladly inform you about the effects.