Investments’ road toward Macedonia

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To love the Macedonia, it is enough to know it. After several campaigns slogans, the path goes as follows: “Meet Macedonia”, “Explore Macedonia,” and “Invest in Macedonia”.

The first step on the road towards success is in the hands of economic promoters of the country, far beyond its borders. You have to be dedicated, very persistent, and patient and the documentation that you hold in your hand you have to have everything. It seems easy to promote the investment potential of a country where reforms are greater than any other does, but it is not easy, but it is a challenge.

In an interview for Kurir, next to each other sat promoters who work away from each other and away from Macedonia, but they work for the same goal. One is economic promoter in Italy, the other much further, in the United States.

Ivan Iliev – Italy: The core of the work of the Macedonian promoters is to promote the country as an investment destination, as a favorable business destination for companies in the country where they work. What is important for successfully running is the full integration into the business community in the country, because once you make the necessary contacts to establish cooperation with institutions, chambers of commerce, industry associations and so on, already are opened avenues for direct contact with companies who are our target.

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Dejan Velickov- Chicago: Our job is first to promote Macedonia as a competitive business and investment location. The primary goal is to generate specific potential investment projects that will create jobs in Macedonia. Specifically, manufacturing companies, but also companies from other sectors. However, our work does not stop there. We work to raise awareness of Macedonia as a country, promoting the country, helping Macedonian companies to increase exports to countries where we are posted and to select and find trade partners who would import Macedonian products in the countries where we are. In addition, of course, promotion of the tourism potential of Macedonia, promoting Macedonia as a country to visit.

Where should you start? Among potential investors unfortunately, there are people who will first ask, “Where is Macedonia?” Therefore, you start from scratch, geography and history, and economics.

Ivan Iliev – Italy: I meet companies who know Macedonia mostly as part of the former Yugoslavia, know the market because of presence of “Zastava” in the sixties in our region, but I often encounter companies that though we are relatively close to Italy, still do not have even basic information about the country. They know that it is a young country, new country that won its independence, after the collapse of Yugoslavia. But unfortunately, I can say that the promotion of our country in Italy is absolutely necessary and is something that should work as, unlike us and the regional countries such as Serbia, Albania, Romania, which are our main competitors in the process of attracting investment projects in Italy, have practically started with a very active promotion of their potentially long time ago.

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Dejan Velickov -Chicago: Some companies less, some people more, but it is true that numbers of U.S. companies are not sufficiently familiar with Macedonia and the region. At the beginning we start out with geography and maps, we provide some history of the state. Many of them for the first time hear about Macedonia. Image and awareness of the country, after initial contact go very fast and positive association of Macedonia as competitive business destination is already established in countries where we are present for several years.

How to get to the first meeting with the head of a large company? You wait and wait, it can last for several months, even years. Therefore, these promoters should be ready to “seize the moment” when that big door will be open.

Dejan Velickov -Chicago: To get to the right people who make decisions in a company is very difficult and it does not happen overnight or with one phone call. Our primary function is to work with people who make the decisions, and they are CEOs or vice presidents in the concrete structure of the company. This requires well- developed homework, research about the company, what is their structure, if there is potential for their international activities in the region and Europe, and then recognizing that who is the first person who makes the decisions for locating a factory abroad. This requires several attempts. Sometimes they last for months and sometimes years. However, it is important that it require great perseverance, necessary telephone calls, the presence at our sector-specific conferences and networking with people in the industry. However, the satisfaction after few such, multiple attempts, after few months when you get to the actual company which is our target, when we will meet and we will be able to present Macedonia as a potential investment destination and that the CEO or vice president will be impressed from Macedonia as country with excellent conditions for doing business and investing, even though before the conversation he had never heard about that country.

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Ivan Iliev – Italy: In the case of Italy, the Italian economy, 95 percent or more is based on small and medium enterprises with family business as main part. So, to get to the President who is also the owner of a company, it is not so difficult. The good for us, perhaps a disadvantage for Italians is that current situation in Italy, because of the large fees and high taxes, is a big hurdle for the development of their businesses. Accordingly, when you will manage to reach the right contact, to the decision maker, the manager at a high level in the company who is authorized to discuss these issues for future investment projects of the company, it seems that the further process goes a little easier, it is the impression I get from the first reaction after the presentation. Especially, when I present the section for the completed structural reforms in the country and the favorable business climate for investment.

There are no doubts; the government road shows provide great results. The presentation must be rich and we have lot to offer. However, more importantly is who will sit across our government officials and who will show interest to hear and decide on investment.

Dejan Velickov -Chicago: Despite the presence at business forums and contacts with these companies, the delegation visited the companies with which we communicate at the latest road show which was in November, every day after the business forum we had meetings and we had visited two global companies, talked with senior officials of our government. The moment when the Deputy Prime Minister of a country expresses interest in detail to explain, to express interest in Macedonia to help realize their investment. In large part, we got help from companies that have already invested in Macedonia. At the business forum in Milwaukee, Johnson Controls’s Vice President made ​​a presentation for their positive experience in Macedonia and why exactly Macedonia was chosen as the location of two of their two factories.

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Ivan Iliev – Italy: Ten days ago we finished the road show in Italy. We organize events in four regions in Italy. First event in Turin was sector -oriented event considering the automotive components sector, which is one of our priority sectors in the process of attracting foreign capital. I got in contact the National Association of Manufacturers of automotive components. We had good attendance from companies who want to hear, to get some information. Our delegation had special presentations. Because of this event and other events, we made ​​contact with companies that have a particular interest and are in the phase of getting the location in the region for the implementation of new investment project. 8 meetings were arranged to be implemented in January.

Iliev and Velickov are born Macedonians. They are for several years economic promoters, and they work with great pleasure. Honored and happy to work with love and are aware that their every day work is important. When the investment will be realized and will employ people from this country, these promoters know that they had success, did something good for Macedonia and well-being of their fellow citizens.

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