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The year of resilient Klaipėda – Eimantas Kiudulas

09 Jan 2024
Eimantas Kiudulas

Dear colleagues and friends,

A year ago, many of us rightly feared 2023: while the energy and inflation crises had already peaked, the interest rate and geopolitical environment that restricts business and consumption were and still are worrying. The challenges are far from having disappeared over the year, but I venture to cautiously welcome the fact that we are entering 2024 with a little more good energy. And this is not only due to slightly more positive global economic forecasts, but above all, because of the people of Klaipėda.

We do not yet have the final business figures for 2023, so I can only speak about early indications: we will probably not post new records. But in such periods, resilience, continuity and sticking to the long-term strategy are the real strengths and victories that lay the foundations for the future.

In the Klaipėda FEZ business community, resilience meant not only retaining jobs or increasing average salaries, but also investing in advancements, including developments by companies such as Klaipėdos verslo parkas, Retal Baltic Films, Albright Lietuva, Mestilla. We even welcomed several new investors. Also, the Klaipėda FEZ management company was true to its long-term strategy: we have officially completed the second FlexStart building, started the development of the third one and are even gradually preparing for the fourth one.

From the outside, all this may sound like not a huge deal – just a few names, steps and facts. But each step forward further strengthens the economic resilience of the Klaipėda FEZ and the city. And this has real results for everyone. For instance, in the middle of last year, we announced the record-breaking taxes paid by Klaipėda FEZ investors, or the half-billion annual purchases on the Lithuanian market. And recently we received numbers showing that the average salaries paid by investors in the Klaipėda FEZ surpass the Klaipėda county statistics by as much as 26%. Moreover, this “good” gap has only been widening over the last few years. Also, our analyses show that although Klaipėda FEZ investors’ companies employ about 3% of Klaipėda city workers, they generate four times more, i.e. about 12% of the city’s added value.

All this shows that in more than two decades of operation, we have managed to attract not “just anyone” to the FEZ, but high value-added enterprises. Therefore, even if we have not been able to enjoy the largest new investments in a rather difficult year, every investor retained or, even more so, expanding under such circumstances is a great victory for the whole city.

By the way, at the end of last year we conducted a new survey of investors and tenants of Klaipėda FEZ. We will share the data separately, but I would like to point out now that our investors give the highest scores to their experience, which is in many cases determined by the people of Klaipėda themselves: employees, partners, municipality, as well as the academic, resident and other communities. Simply put, Klaipėda FEZ businesses are happy and proud to operate in Klaipėda, recommend and trust our city and want to continue to contribute to its success and growth. Although this is not directly reflected in business indicators, the opinion of investors at such a time is also a victory for me, creating both real value today and the preconditions for new great success stories in the near future.

For me personally, the past year has also been marked by constructive dialogues – with the new city government, the port, the business, academic and resident communities. The biggest needs of residents and businesses are known and addressing them requires an often difficult consensus on priorities. I am pleased that we all agree that Klaipėda has distinct strengths that have shown their resilience to various challenges.

So this year, I will first and foremost wish our business community and every citizen of Klaipėda courage. 2023 proved that we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to stand up to, and I wish that 2024 will be a year of bold, strong, determined and new steps.

Eimantas Kiudulas and
Team Klaipėda FEZ

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