An Absolute Center Location in Kosovo

We develop a brief understanding of what Drenas can offer the foreign investor. With already over 30 domestic and foreign businesses operating in their newly developed business park; it makes one wonder why. Let’s take a look:


Please offer our readers a snapshot of your time as mayor and some of the key accomplishments since beginning.

I’ve been mayor for seven years and this is my last mandate. The post war period was an interesting time for me as the country was in transition with great need for reconstruction and development. Of course, this meant not only at the municipality level but as well facing these problems nationwide. In particular it was quite a challenge to develop our legal infrastructure. Additionally, we began to reform our administration and services which were a big challenge because every citizen, for each of their problems, they first come to the municipality for a remedy. So now every citizen can apply online in order to get any documents they need from the municipality which takes a very short amount of time.

Clearly Kosovo is dependent on many foreign institutions and their aid programs. Are you receiving any assistance at the municipality level, technical or financial?

Yes, we are continuously receiving various forms of assistance with USAID acting as one of the largest contributors in technical advising. As an example, they assisted in creating a security council in the municipality giving us the right recommendations and involving all communities in the municipality. We had meetings where we were discussing other security structures and so this was a great contribution which helped us.

Mayor of Gllogoc-Drenas: Mr. Nexhat Demaku

In fact if we refer to our statistics from our municipality in the last seven years there have been no murders or attempted murder cases. These are excellent statistics for a city with 60,000 people and the direct result of the USAID advising, so physical security for investors is unparalleled. We received financial assistance from the European Union but also USAID, which has supported us with 2 million euro in the last four years. This budget was used for building schools, renovating the old ones and part of it was used for building a water factory and expanding the drinking water infrastructure and the quality of drinking water. Around 1.6 million euro was invested for the water so now 70% of the municipality is covered with a new water pipe network.

We received financial assistance from the European Union but also USAID, which has supported us with 2 million euro in the last four years. This budget was used for building schools, renovating the old ones and part of it was used for building a water factory and expanding the drinking water infrastructure and the quality of drinking water.

What are some of the accomplishments outside international assistance and what are some projects the municipality is doing by itself?

General infrastructure was our challenge, but taking care of the environment, fixing up rivers and river protection and expansion of drinking water network in rural areas. In the next two years our goal is to cover the whole municipality with the drinking water network. As mentioned, some of it is accomplished already but it needs more work in the rural area so as to not have chaotic migrations from rural areas into the city.

What are some opportunities for investors in the region and what are some of your plans for economic development?


We approved our local strategy for economic development plan 2015 – 2019 and one of the priorities is intensive support of the agriculture sector. We’ve been working on this and as well on our fiscal policy as a municipality so all companies in this field are exempt from taxes permanently. Moreover, there are 5,600 hectares which is under irrigation and with an opportunity to expand. The government is making good steps in stimulating the macro-economic growth and it starts with a policy which removes excise tax from raw materials.

Another example is the Ferronickel factory. We had foreign investors privatize this; as a result, there are now more than 1,000 people employed as well as indirect contractors. We are currently finishing the creation of a business park with 34 companies already operating in the park. Through this we try to give companies the best conditions in which to operate starting with the strategic location located just off the main highway and facilities available for long term leases up to 99 years.

It’s the first of its kind in the country. Not only have national companies taken advantage of the site but so have several international companies. The supply of electricity is strong and reliable as we built a new transformer for the park capable of 110 megawatts allowing for 24 hour business operations. In the past it was a great struggle to have 24 hours of electricity. One of the foreign companies that are settled in our business park is Lift-Kos a German company which produces elevators, from start to finish and the plan for them is to expand with the demands in the region. There is a variety of companies that produce and process textile, food, wood, paper and for them this business park/industrial zone is quite attractive as well due to the location near the highway as well as proximity to the airport and railroad which are nearby. We’ve spent time promoting these assets and I think that’s why more companies are coming to this area as well as why other municipalities are building up business and industrial zones to mirror our success.

 

How important is it to maintain a strong relationship with your municipality’s investors; namely, the very important Ferronickel mining plant?

There are good relations between the municipality and the Ferronickel factory. Of course, one of the problems was to maintain the environment and so we had confrontations concerning the pollution which they expel. As a result, we asked them to take actions and to maintain the environment in a more strenuous manner. It’s a continuous struggle to keep the environment clean and healthy for our future generations.

Mayor, please extend a personal message to our readers on ‘why’ Drenas as a place to do business.

There are a lot of things to consider. I would say that the security measures are strong; we have a good fiscal policy with minimal bureaucracy. Ultimately, I would like to finish by very simply stating that is our desire to strike a balance between investors, cheap labor and a good environment for potential companies who would like to set up in Drenas.

 

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