Attracting private investments has been a major priority for Oradea and its metropolitan area, especially since the 2008 economic crisis. At the level of Oradea, the driving force behind these efforts was the Oradea Local Development Agency (ADLO), a public company whose majority shareholder is the Municipality of Oradea. Based on its high performance in developing and managing the four industrial parks in the Eurobusiness Park of Oradea, with over 425 million euro and 9,500 new jobs created, the Agency has been handed over the management of the entire network of industrial parks at the county level. The network will comprise of 11 units, in 7 localities. This makes Bihor the county with the highest number of industrial parks managed by a single entity.
The transfer was possible by signing a collaboration protocol between the Agency, the County Council and the local councils of the localities hosting the industrial parks. As a result, interested investors will have a single point of contact for all available locations and will be guided in choosing the best option, taking into account criteria such as the profile of the available workforce or the surface of the land parcels.
The end goal is to attract investors to the less developed areas of Bihor County, to create new jobs for the local community, close to where they live, thus limiting the pressure on Oradea and its metropolitan area.
The agency’s activity is regarded as best practice across Romania, and the team involved has been very open to exchanging knowledge and experience with other interested actors. Among the key success factors which has also been replicated in other locations is that for investments below 5 million euros, land is given in concession with the possibility of purchasing it only upon completion of the investment, subject to the fulfillment of the calendar of activities and the contractual clauses. This results in avoiding real estate speculation or postponing the investments undefinitely after the purchase of the land is made.
One of the main benefits of developing such a dedicated Agency for attracting investments is the creation of a one-stop-shop for future and existing investors alike. The role of the Local Development Agency goes beyond the promotion and attraction phase and covers the entire cycle of an investment, acting as a partner and mediator for local and foreign investors in their relationship with public institutions. The services that the agency offers include:
- Assistance in selecting the location for investment – information on regional / local statistical indicators, local business environment, education system, public transport system, utilities and costs, investment costs, facilitation of meetings with public institutions / agencies
- Assistance for making the investment and preparing the location: information on connecting to public utility networks, urban planning regulations applicable in the area, assistance on the structures of public institutions with responsibilities in approving investments, development of studies on solutions for connection to the electricity network of the industrial park, issuing technical approvals for connection, signing connection contracts, monitoring and calculation of consumption, etc.
- Assistance after the investment, throughout the activity – facilitating the relationship with public utility companies (for signing connection contracts, interventions in case of breakdowns, communication of announced interruptions in the provision of services), assistance in relations with the Bihor County School Inspectorate and school institutions
- Services for the administration of common spaces and assets (green spaces, roads, public lighting system, pumping station etc).
To ensure a skilled workforce for investors, the Local Development Agency also engages in joint projects with educational institutions and NGOs. Moreover, ADLO established a dual educational system through the Eurobusiness vocational school, in partnership with the Oradea City Hall, the Bihor County School Inspectorate, technical colleges in the city and private companies. An international school was also established in 2017, in partnership with a local foundation, to support families established in Oradea from abroad.
Last but not least, the Agency is involved in the development of major transport infrastructure development (such as an intermodal transport center and the cargo terminal of the Oradea Airport), as well as the construction of a residential complex for the employees in the Eurobusiness Park (including a fitness center, restaurant andother services) and a kindergarten in its close proximity.
To attract a skilled workforce in Oradea and its metropolitan area, there is a commitment to continue investments in the quality of life, which also include the extension of metropolitan public transport, and in the business infrastructure. The local startup ecosystem has also benefits from a strong support from the local administration, through the Make IT in Oradea initiative, which was launched in 2020, in partnership with the local tech companies. The program offers a framework for developing new startup ideas through the Bright Labs Incubator, with a 300.000 annual budget for selected start-ups, from the city’s local budget. One of the key objectives of the project is to encourage young people to stay or return to Oradea and connect them to local opportunities. The program also offers a package to support high school or college students, laying the groundwork for a new generation of IT specialists. Support measures include schooling, as well as meals and accommodation for students from nearby towns.
At the metropolitan level, attracting new investments is a key pillar of a strategy to diversify the local economy and enable the polycentric development of the 11 surrounding localities. Through an EU project (South-East Europe Transnational Cooperation Programme), the MA entity has created an inventory of land owned by local governments that is available for private investments. Detailed characteristics of the land parcels were also included in the inventory, available here: https://zmo.ro/download/oportunitati%20investitii.pdf .
The Metropolitan IDA also participated, in partnership with the Local Development Agency of Oradea (ADLO) to international trade fairs such as Expo Real in Munchen and Real Vienna. The IDA and ADLO also foster close ties with Trade Chambers of Commerce in Romania and organized joint stands with other EU regions.