Geography alone little benefits business
Beshenkovichi District of Vitebsk Region boasts favourable climate for small enterprises
By Olga Krupko
Preferences and privileges encourage businesses to start up in rural areas, bringing not only local employment but benefitting local budgets and promoting wider economic and social wellbeing for Belarus. Importantly, new rural facilities support villages’ stable development and attract young people into an area. Small and medium-sized enterprises can react more quickly to market needs, being focused on modern technologies.
Beshenkovichi is a small town not far from Vitebsk: home to around 8,000 people. However, it has no major facilities and, until recently, local residents were inclined to move to the regional centre to find well-paid jobs. The situation is changing thanks to the state programme promoting economic activity in rural areas. Investors are being successfully attracted; such are their demands for employees that workers are being brought in from Vitebsk.
Leonid Penkovsky, the Chairman of the Beshenkovichi District Executive Committee, tells us, “Apart from privileged taxation rates, investors are attracted by our proximity to the regional centre; 65km of the M3 (Vitebsk-Minsk) highway passes through our district. Geography is not the key to success though; we do a great deal to support all those interested in running their own businesses. We process their registration of unused buildings promptly, give help in finding loans and help with connection to gas and water. We’ve even found staff for the joint Belarusian-Lithuanian Akonit-Pharma enterprise (producing homeopathic medicines) — sending staff for re-training in necessary specialities via our Employment Centre.”
Innovations come from provinces
One of two projects backed by the Belarusian Innovative Fund in the Vitebsk Region is being realised in Beshenkovichi, run by Belkotlomash scientific-production enterprise. Recently, PM Mikhail Myasnikovich paid a visit, to inspect its modernisation.
The company’s General Director, Victor Kravchenko, tells us that, last year, a loan of over Br22bn was allocated to Belkotlomash, for the expansion of innovative production. At present, it manufactures over 60 models of boiler, with a special design bureau set up at the enterprise. Among its latest developments is a boiler generating heat and electricity from wood chips and milled peat: already in use in the Dubrovno and Tolochin districts of Belarus and in Russia’s Pskov Region. The Russian market is in great need of such equipment, having areas boasting huge milled peat reserves. The firm is also working jointly with an Italian company to produce boilers able to generate up to 50MW in heat power. The project aims to ensure import substitution and the export of energy. No other such enterprise operates anywhere in Belarus or the CIS.
Several import substitution enterprises have also begun their work in the district: among them Beshenkovichi Agroproduct (producing whole milk substitutes for feeding calves) and Viprotech machine building company (manufacturing a wide range of grouting-concrete equipment). Its staff have already received an order to produce grouting-concrete equipment for Olympic sites in Sochi and for the Belarusian nuclear power station (in Ostrovets). Meanwhile, Viprotech will supply Ostrovets with self-propelled crriages for cargo transportation.