SHORTLY after arriving in the eastern city of Košice, American steel producer US Steel established its own Economic Development Centre (EDC) to promote eastern Slovakia as a favourable place for investment.
"The centre has one purpose - to promote economic growth and the creation of new jobs in the region. The objective of the EDC is to increase the inflow of foreign direct investments into eastern Slovakia," said Ján Bača, the spokesman for US Steel Košice.
Bača said that the EDC has recruited eight new businesses to invest in eastern Slovakia. When fully staffed, the companies will employ approximately 1,000 people and will represent more than $50 million (€41.1 million) in foreign direct investments.
"The EDC provides basic information about eastern Slovakia and also helps solve the specific problems of potential investors in detail, based on our own know-how as investors who have gone through the whole experience ourselves," said Juraj Augustin, general manager of regional development and director of EDC.
"We also explain to potential investors all the cultural differences that they may encounter working and living in this country," he added.
The EDC organises conferences under the name Eastern Slovakia - Investment Target (ES-IT) that are intended to attract suitable partners from western Europe and the US.
Since its establishment, the EDC staff has travelled throughout western Europe as a business roadshow, sponsoring and organising ES-IT investment conferences in places like Brussels, Berlin, Oslo, Milan, and London. The purpose is to expose western European businesses to the advantages of establishing manufacturing operations in eastern Slovakia.
"As a developing region, eastern Slovakia offers businesses a highly educated workforce, competitive operating costs, and access to dynamic and growing markets in central and eastern Europe," added Bača.
An initial US roadshow was held in May 2003 and proved very successful. The EDC organised the tour with the support of the US Steel Corporation, the American Chamber of Commerce, the US Embassy in Bratislava, and the Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency.
The US roadshow was a series of sessions in New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh aimed at promoting and increasing foreign direct investments in eastern Slovakia.
Some of the companies addressed during the US roadshow visited the Košice region during an investment conference from June 10 to 12, 2003 organised by the US Embassy in Bratislava.
U.S. Steel Košice sponsored the investment conference and a fly-away day to Košice was co-organised by the EDC.
During the fly-away day, companies had the chance to meet the representatives of municipalities, see established US investors, visit the US Steel Košice plant, and see the Kechnec industrial park - a potential greenfield location for their projects.
A second US investment roadshow was held in November 2003 in New York, Detroit, and other US cities.
US Steel Košice is committed to a 10-year capital investment plan in Slovakia, which should result in expenditures of approximately $700 million (€575.23 million).
"Between 2000 and 2002 we invested $259 million (€212.84 million), last year it was $110 million (€90.4 million), and this year we plan to complete projects worth $160 million (€131.48 million). Next year we will be one year ahead of schedule in capital investment," explained Bača.
Half of this year's investment will be, according to Bača, in environmental projects.
"Two new production lines began operation in July last year. The start-up of the continuous annealing and electrolytic tinning lines means a total investment of Sk4.1 billion (€100.8 million), and represents another step towards value-added products for US Steel Košice," added Bača.
"The products of this equipment enable US Steel Košice to further participate in the market of value-added products. The new lines also demonstrate our commitment to our customers, employees, the region, and Slovakia. Investments like this move our company forward and help to solidify the future success of our company for all of its stakeholders," said Christopher Navetta, president of US Steel Košice.
26. Jan 2004 at 0:00 | Marta Ďurianová