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Almost 6,000 jobs in Klaipėda FEZ
Over the past year across the entire Klaipėda free economic zone (FEZ), 500 new jobs have emerged and the overall number of jobs has reached 5,900. According to the Klaipėda FEZ, every euro invested in the territory now creates at least two to three times more value for the remaining businesses in the seaside region, and this effect should gain further prominence with the FEZ companies expanding high added value activities.
Currently, Klaipėda FEZ is host to 44 companies, with 36 of them being companies with the FEZ investor status. In 2019, the companies with FEZ status saw overall turnover reaching 1.16 billion euros, and current, as well as new investors, completed development projects valued at 18.3 million euros. Companies with investor status saw employee counts at the end of the last year totalling 3,189, which is 238 less than a year ago. However, across the entire FEZ territory, including companies without investor status, 500 new jobs appeared, raising the number of those working in the area to 5,900.
Eimantas Kiudulas, the head of Klaipėda FEZ, describes 2019 as a strong year – while a new turnover record could not be achieved due to fallen raw material prices, last year’s work led to the signing of at least two major contracts: with the German polymer giant Rehau and the large Estonian metal processing company BLRT Grupp. Also, previous FEZ investors continued to increase their capacities by expanding their production, warehousing and, most importantly, research and development capacities, leading to growth in the number of staff working in the FEZ territory.
Furthermore, while it is currently difficult to predict the impact of a potential second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least for now, in many cases investment is not being halted and the work and planning of recent years in research, innovation and the prerequisite infrastructure, partnership and services will allow bringing new advanced businesses to the port city.
“Lithuania has excellent capabilities to not only invite new investors, but also encourage the expansion of already settled ones. This can often be more effective than seeking wholly new investors. Over the last financial year, the investment of already settled companies exceeded that of those just settling in the FEZ. Such expansion shows that they enjoy the business conditions and environment, the FEZ community and services offered here. We are glad that our investors are not only expanding their capacities, but also the profile of their operations – Klaipėda FEZ is increasingly becoming not only a centre of manufacturing, but also of research and development. In this area, we are looking even further ahead – we are investing in conditions, infrastructure and community, which will attract even more businesses based on innovation, research and high added value creation. This ambition is an excellent match with the city’s strategy Klaipėda 2030, which aims to orient the city toward maritime, blue and clean technology economy, and automation of industry,” E. Kiudulas comments.
According to Kiudulas, the investors operating in Klaipėda FEZ are creating business opportunities not only for tens of other companies working in the territory, but also for the entire seaside region and Lithuania at large – in 2019, companies in the FEZ purchased goods and services from Lithuanian suppliers worth 290 million euros.
Last year, total exports from Klaipėda FEZ comprised 542 million euros, with FEZ investors exporting mostly to Scandinavian, Western European, Baltic and Polish markets. Since the launch of the free economic zone in 2002, 643 million euros in investment has been accumulated in Klaipėda FEZ, with most of this being foreign direct investment.
Among the greatest achievements and success stories for Klaipėda, Kiudulas mentions the local and international attention garnered by the Lithuanian fully electric Dancer which was created and produced in the FEZ. The zone has increased public and business attention to sustainability, environment and responsible operation, while the unity of Klaipeda FEZ community during the lockdown was truly remarkable.
Furthermore, strategic cooperation in resolving challenges and creating new opportunities has been growing stronger between the city municipality, its key organisations, academic community and businesses through the creation of joint events and projects for investors, with the Blue Growth Leaders informal international academy being launched this autumn, along with other initiatives.
Last year, as testament to the management company’s adherence to best practices in sustainability, safety, transparency and finance management, Klaipėda FEZ was the first in Lithuania to receive the Safe Zone certificate from the global World FZO organisation, which unites free economic zones around the world. Furthermore, the management company of Klaipėda FEZ has been voluntarily performing financial audits since 2006, which is performed by UAB Grant Thornton. According to Kiudulas, safety, transparency and responsibility are important factors in negotiating on new investment.