Mizo: Italian company interested in investment in Ohrid- Struga region

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The bulk of new investment in the past 6-7 years that came in Macedonia are companies from the automotive industry, but also from electronic, as these two industries globally are most mobile industries. These companies are always looking for more competitive location for their manufacture where they can find suitable and qualified labor to meet their global needs, but also the global manufacturers of cars and electronic devices always have very strong pressure on them to be more competitive than pricing standpoint.

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This was underlined by the director of the Directorate for Technological Industrial Development Zones Viktor Mizo during the visit at the Ohrid 02 television.

Key Safety Systems (KSS) is one of the 4 largest companies in the world that manufactures airbags and seat belts and general components Security and ODV electric vehicles as well as Capkon in Skopje companies which are their suppliers.

-And in part the decision of the Capkov and ODV Electric indirectly the decision of the KSS was very important since their arrival in Macedonia indirectly influenced the other two companies to come and choose Macedonia because, in the entire region under consideration as are competitive opportunity investment, such as transport costs, logistics and proximity is always important and plays crucial role. But while KSS was the company that we were in talks over 8 years and they had lot of good information for us who and were able to share with their suppliers, underlined Mizo.

The first employment in ODV Electric have already begun and is expected to soon begin hiring for Costal.

-ODV Electric currently employs about 75-80 people according to the plan by the end of 2015 will reach about 140 or 150 jobs. Currently they produce components for a competitor of KSS. It is Swedish company, which is also global leader in the production of all security and safety systems for the automotive industry. With the Chief Executive Officer of ODV Eectric were in Kichevo this week and were reviewing the activities of KSS and by the end of this month we will finish all the necessary activities and sign the contracts and it is expected that construction of the facility to begin no later than mid August and by the late spring early summer, next year the new production hall in TIDZ Struga Ohrid will be functional, which means that then the whole production will be transferred there.

From the perspective of Costal, in the last 4-6 weeks, informed Mizo several times representatives of Costal were here in Skopje and Ohrid where performed two different recruiting with the appropriate personnel. Their plan is to begin employment in the middle of September and they are sent for training at their convenience. Also to begin adapting existing facility in Ohrid where will start brown field investment somewhere in the middle of October, and parallel to it and will begin projecting works for the building of the zone and will be neighbors with ODV Electric.

-Although they have no direct contacts, they previously knew each other, and the possibility of their factories to be side by side opens great opportunities for cooperation, Mizo noted.

He informed that next Monday is planned visit to Albania where the management of the Italian company which is already present there to hold agreed meeting.

-Namely they asked for meeting. There, they already have two production facilities and are considering about 500 jobs, and they are interested in exactly Ohrid-Struga region, so hopefully I will have more information. This company is from he automotive industry. Now we have new country Italy and 500 people and the region we all know that means a lot, he underlined.

Currently are functional both TIDZ, in Skopje and Shtip area i.e. what means public private partnership in Tetovo, but are finished all construction activities in Struga- Ohrid zone and the zone in Prilep and Kichevo.

-For these three areas, we have companies that should start work by the end of this year or during the middle of next year. This means that all infrastructure activities are completed and will be built in parallel with the needs of companies whether it is Gentherm in Prilep, Kichevo KSS, ODV Electric and Costal here in Ohrid-Struga region. But parallel to this, we  work in other areas of the zone in Vinica, Delchevo, Berovo, Strumica, Gevgelija and this will depend on the needs of investors and hopefully, with all the plans that we have for the coming year as we anticipate some investors somewhere by October this year, we will immediately engage all our efforts to engage these relevant areas to start not only the construction, but also the construction to be completed by the end  dateline and to put in operation the new production facilities.

Macedonia is at top 15 place in the survey for open positions by foreign investors, with most progress under the renowned Ernest Young.

-Not only position we compare with all countries in Europe, there are countries that are much larger than Macedonia. It is very important how jobs are created per capita, and from that point, we had the biggest jump in 2014 compared with 2013. Last year, there were more than 5,000 newly created jobs. What matters this year is that only KSS and Lear will provide employment of over 500 people by the end of this year. Here I must add that there will be about 250-300 at Gentherm in Prilep, Techniques Textile plans to have over 300 employees, Johnson Controls in Shtip say that it is possible to employ additional 250-300 people. If we collect all these newly created jobs and I think this year will be very successful, but we must take into account that from the moment of deciding the operation of the production plant usually we spend about 15-18 months in construction, training people and then have to go 2-3 while to reach that optimal number of jobs, underlined Mizo.

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The whole process the few companies are in different stage, he added, but when you sum up all the results, we will have very good quality and the number of newly created jobs and, most importantly, the majority are not in Skopje, but through various parts Macedonia. I think the idea of ​​14 technological industrial development zones creates opportunity to disperse the aims for economic development. If you concentrate in the capital,  it is problem for all other cities in Macedonia. But, as you can see, Kichevo, Polog, Ohrid, Struga, Prilep … we create new jobs everywhere, new companies come, which means that all people can find potential existence in their hometown.

-Up to 5-6 years, Macedonia was not known country. When you mention Macedonia at meetings we got strange look as Macedonia was not known in some specific industries. Now, not only Macedonia is included in the map, there are other geopolitical factors were partially positive for us. Tunisia, which was very competitive for long time and in terms of available manpower due to the Arab Spring and all additional terrorist attacks, Tunisia is no longer in that game. Countries like Ukraine and Moldova, countries that were very competitive, where labor is much lower and we could not compare them to those labor-intensive companies where price is decisive, but because of the developments in the past 15-18 months they are not in that game. But Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, sometimes Albania are potential competitor countries and capital intensive companies here as are Hungary, Slovakia and sometimes eastern parts of Poland. But, the most important asset of Macedonia, besides benefits, reforms to improve the business climate is accessibility to people who are decisive factor to help investors realize their investment. It is not only the process of attracting investment, but also when I made the decision of how and how fast they can be functional and to solve daily problems they face in a new country. Here direct communication is very important because there is way to communicate, to obtain benefits and suggestions from them to change some things in Macedonia, which means improving the business climate not only for foreign investors but also domestic companies, Mizo noted.

Exports in the first 6 months was about 705 million euro. If we compare it with 1 billion and 170 million euro last year Viktor Mizo believes that we are very close to have increase for this year.

-I believe that we will have minimum 25% increase compared to last year because these figures in the past 6 months only apply to companies that are functional. With the start of operation of these new companies we talked to, we will have additional contribution of their work, but the cooperation with domestic companies is more important, as global companies coming always want to find opportunity in the local market to find companies that can give logistics services, security, catering, but above all, not only components and what is needed in terms of raw materials, but servicing of equipment and machinery. Thus creating knowledge and experience in Macedonia, where people are trained to work in specific industries and servicing of sophisticated machines, robots or sometimes special software problems, and companies so far about using countries such as Slovenia, Austria, Germany. We noticed that in the past 18 months, was created even at the domestic level, knowledge and the opportunity for such service companies in Macedonia and of course, working with program with the World Bank and IFC and the way they can help domestic companies with manufacturing activities to be certified and have the knowledge and quality and to become suppliers of foreign companies, he concludes.