Orenburg region plans to enter the top 20 best regions in terms of investment climate
In the coming years, the Orenburg region intends to make a real breakthrough and enter the top 20 Russian regions - leaders in terms of investment attractiveness. What are the steps to achieve this goal? What is the main advantage of the Orenburg region? What kind of support can an investor expect here? Ignat Petukhov, General Director of the Regional Development Corporation, answered these and other questions of RG.
Improving the investment climate today is one of the strategic tasks facing the region. Why is this issue so important?
- The Orenburg region is now in 52nd place in the Russian Federation in the rating of investment attractiveness. Of course, this situation does not suit either the management of the corporation, or the leadership of the region, or the business itself. We have set the task to enter the top twenty in the country.
If we evaluate the level of comfort for entrepreneurs in our country on a ten-point scale, then I would give an five. On the one hand, this is traditionally a good assessment, but at the same time we have room to grow and develop. In order to reach the top ten from the current top five, a whole range of measures is needed. This is also the improvement of the urban environment - because entrepreneurs, like all people, want to work comfortably, relax, study. And economic aspects in the form of support measures at the regional level - so that business feels that it is needed and important. Then he will create jobs, invest in authorized capital, buy new equipment, and increase labor productivity. Only an integrated approach will help change the situation so that entrepreneurs do not leave us, but, on the contrary, come to us from neighboring regions.
Have you tried to analyze why the business is leaving?
- If a business leaves, it means that it is more comfortable in other regions. This means that we must look at what are the advantages of our neighbors, where we are inferior and create better conditions for us.
I can single out three main reasons that hinder the development of entrepreneurship in the region. First of all, it is overly active control and supervisory activity. Unscheduled inspections greatly interfere with business. We must focus on alleviating this burden on SMEs. The second problem is personnel. Enterprises complain that they have to spend several years to retrain yesterday's university graduates. The solution to the issue is to reduce the distance between business and educational institution. It is optimal for the business to be the customer of specialists trained by universities. Often, universities do not always have time to adapt their programs in accordance with market requirements, so they need to establish a dialogue with entrepreneurs.
And the third condition is the availability of financial resources for business. Often business representatives complain that the existing interest rates on loans are overstated. We are working on it. A Guarantee Fund has been operating in the region for about three years, which allows SMEs to receive up to 50 percent of guarantees for certain loans. It operates throughout the region, and these services are in demand.
What other support measures is the region ready to offer entrepreneurs today?
- One of the main competitive advantages of the Orenburg region is our border position. Therefore, now we have a complex of export support for enterprises that can sell their products abroad and leave money in the country. We have developed more than 20 services and last year about 700 enterprises have already received this assistance: from developing a website in English to organizing a business mission and exhibitions. We offer all this on co-financing terms. For example, we had exhibitions in Uzbekistan, Finland, Italy ...
And what are the results?
- The main results are the concluded export contracts. At the end of 2019, it was possible to conclude 73 contracts worth more than one and a half billion rubles - this says a lot. During this period, we have moved from 52nd place in export support among all similar centers of the Russian Federation to 13th. Among the countries with which we helped establish cooperation are Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Georgia and even Vietnam.
What business structures can count on the help of the corporation?
- Any subject of small and medium-sized businesses can apply to us. It could even be the pavilion owner from the market. We offer the client a menu - what he can count on. As I already said, assistance in project implementation is provided on the basis of co-financing: in different proportions - sometimes 50/50, sometimes 80/20. But this is a necessary condition for an entrepreneur to feel that he is also responsible for this with his own money.
Would you yourself risk opening a business in the Orenburg region?
- If I were a businessman - certainly. More precisely, I did not risk it, but would confidently open my own business here. The region has all the conditions to develop its potential. Yes, there are problems. But there are much more advantages - this is the proximity to export markets, and the possibility of communication with educational institutions, and the support of the authorities. In general, there are very open people in the Orenburg region, ready for dialogue. Therefore, I believe that we have everything to become the most comfortable region for business.