CONSTRUCTION began in early October.
Plans for the park began in 1994, and it was scheduled to open last winter. Euro Valley organisers and regional representatives are welcoming the long-awaited start of construction as the final step before the park becomes fully functional next year.
"Today we can offer a concrete space to real investors. Final project preparation will take three to six months and we can expect the entry of the first investors early next year," said Peter Weber, head of civic society Euro Valley, which spearheaded the project.
"We can now start a marketing campaign aimed at attracting foreign investors to this zone," said Weber at the September founding ceremony in the western Slovak town Malacky, 20 kilometres north of Bratislava.
According to project architects, Euro Valley should become a modern science and industrial village over the next 15 years, hosting a network of high-tech companies, research and education facilities, accommodation, recreation and commercial zones, in addition to business and trade-fair centres.
The site is designed for the production of electronics, computer hardware, software, telecom equipment and robotic devices.
Euro Valley's location was chosen by the German IT consultancy Empirica as early as 1993, pointing out the 'golden triangle' region of Bratislava, Vienna and the north-western Hungarian city of Györ.
The attractiveness of the region, say investment professionals, stems mainly from the availability of local research facilities and universities, as well as its highly developed telecom and transport infrastructure.
According to government documents, the price-to-quality ratio in Slovakia is also a great draw for investors because of the country's high standard of education and low wage costs - at around $200 per month, the lowest in the central European region.
Park organisers expect to attract nearly Sk80 billion ($1.8 billion)in investments over the next 15 years. While German electronics producer Siemens is already planning to invest in the zone, more names are expected in the near future.
"If we had space available today, investors would start building right away," said Milan Vaškor, deputy chairman of Bratislava regional government.
"[The founding stone] is a symbolic base of a unique zone that can, thanks to the inflow of foreign investments, significantly contribute to development of our region," said Dušan Prokop, head of the Malacky District Office.
"As for the question of employment, this project should be very, very significant," said Prokop. Planners expect the project to generate 15,000 jobs directly and an additional 10,000 among suppliers and contractors of park tenants.
The Slovak government is optimistic about Euro Valley's potential, pointing out that firms in the park will produce mostly products and services with high added value and export potential.
In addition, say Slovak IT specialists, the park will encourage skilled technology workers to stay in Slovakia rather than chase IT opportunities abroad.
"If the government wants to foster more sophisticated production by keeping top experts [at home], there need to be more opportunities at home," said Juraj Sabaka, head of the Slovak IT Association.
"Euro Valley is, from this point of view, a step in the right direction," he said.
14. Oct 2002 at 0:00 | Miroslav Karpaty