The municipality of Edineț in northern Moldova, home to around 20,000 people, is one of the first municipalities from Moldova to have joined the European Union’s “Mayors for Economic Growth” Initiative (M4EG) in 2017. The challenges that Edinet was facing at the time were typical of a remote area: scarce and unattractive local jobs, an exodus of young talent, timid investment, struggling local entrepreneurs, and relatively low level of local business planning and development skills. Local authorities had to think outside the box to stimulate local economic development with unconventional sources previously unknown to or inaccessible for them.
Upon joining the European Union’s Initiative “Mayors for Economic Growth” (M4EG), Edinet started working on their Local Economic Development Plan based on the principles of public-private dialogue, accountability, and civic participation. In 2017, the municipality also took part in the M4EG Call for Pioneer Projects, and turned out one of 16 winners out of 164 applicants. This is how the project “Edinet – Economic Growth Pole in North Region of Moldova” was conceived, with its implementation starting in 2018.
Its main objective was to facilitate an influx of foreign investments and decrease unemployment rate in the region by the means of creating new jobs. Having a total budget of 643,545 Euro (out of which 579,185 Euro is the EU grant), the project’s approach was to focus on the local industrial area and upgrade it to serve multiple integrated functions. In this regard, the municipality decided to invest specifically in Edinet’s main strategic asset – Industrial Park. With the Project support in just 20 months the Park’s physical infrastructure has been greatly improved with several new facilities being created.
The administrator of Edinet’s Industrial Park Artur Resetnicov provides details on the Park and its current residents: “At present, besides the 4 office building residents of the industrial park, 4 residents have moved into the new industrial hall. We have a Ukrainian company that produces concentrated apple juice; a company that manufactures cases of various sizes for fruits; the third company has a line for drying plums; and the fourth company has a cold storage for the sorting, storing and packaging of fruits. The rent is much lower than average market rates.” Ion Gisca, an Industrial Park resident, is really happy with the services and infrastructure the Park is offering. He specifies: “We have a cold storage space in which we can store 500 tons of plums and 500 tons of apples every season. We sell dried plums across Europe.”
The new concept of an Industrial Park now combines education, training, production and business support services. The newly created Business Incubator offers training, as well as business support and development services, which are helpful especially for young entrepreneurs, startups and farmers of Edinet municipality. “I recently returned to Moldova and opened a business here in Edinet. I learnt about the Industrial Park when I was looking for office space. Here we can rent more space as we grow and we don’t have to deal with many formalities. Good conditions are very important for start-ups, and here they have everything they need to begin operation”, - clarifies Roșca Vadim, a resident of the Business Incubator.
The Project-inspired Business Hub also became a prominent factor in the reinvigoration of business support ecosystem of the Moldova’s northern region. It is now the main physical premise of a new Cooperation and Business Support Platform – an official networking body for business support and development – and hosts conferences, workshops, lectures, creative labs and other working level events, promoting local economic development and cooperation in the region. The Business Hub has two fully equipped training rooms and a computer room with the region’s first 3D printer, providing potential entreprenuers and start-upers with creative learning and business development environment.
Anastasia Lupu, started her engagement with the Business Hub as a beneficiary of trainings, but in the long run she ended up as part of the Industrial Park family. “My associate and I thought of starting a catering business and we decided to come here because the Business Hub offers many opportunities, including our training. We will provide catering services here in the Industrial Park. We chose this location because it has everything we need and all the necessary facilities for a kitchen. We want to employ 2 people with disabilities because they also need to be socially integrated.”
Thus, Edinet’s new multifunctional Industrial Park is already well-equipped and perfectly positioned to continue to serve as an engine for the region’s economic development.
In the Project lifetime, 100 young potential entrepreneurs have got access to training, 4 new residents have moved into the Park, 10 permanent jobs have been created, a number of networking events have been conducted. The project’s stakeholders and beneficiaries demonstrate solid optimism for the project’s ability to transform Edinet for the benefit of its citizens and communities.
The municipal administration remains the driving force behind the Edinet’s transformation with the “Mayoers for Economic Growth”. The Mayor of Edinet Constantin Cojocaru has expressed his appreciation of the European Union assistance and support to the municipality, and re-iterated the strong commitment of the local administration to further their efforts to achieve success: “We are very glad that many young entrepreneurs are getting involved. The European Union’s support is significant, and most importantly villages around Edinet are also benefiting from the project.”
The Project was completed in January 2020, and the Industrial Park’s administration is fully committed to taking over, supporting and further developing the hard and soft business support infrastructure that the Project has established.
Edinet has a potential to be an inspiring example for other municipalities in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine). Struggling with similar challenges, the M4EG initiative offers them an opportunity to increase the capacity of local administrations in order to stimulate economic growth and job creation in their areas.