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Support for Cross-Border Activities from Kostomuksha
The Business Forum, which was organized for the first time in 2016, grew in size this year, as 150 Finnish and Russian participants headed to the Cultural Center ”Druzba”to join the event. The tight program included, for example, speeches related to construction, tourism and fish farming. The wide interest towards the event reveals a motivation for co-operation on both sides of the border, as long as the right partners are found and the legal and economic framework for cross-border cooperation exists.
The event began with a two-part seminar, which first concentrated on the development of co-operation with more general speeches. The event was opened by Anna Bendikova, Director of the Kostomuksha city district. Head of office Tuomas Kinnunen, Petrozavodsk office of the Consulate General of Finland, told about Finnish business, cross-border cooperation and cultural cooperation in the Republic of Karelia, as well as about the role of the consulate in promoting co-operation between Finland and Russia. The involvement of high-level authorities and local governments is important in cooperation with Russia as it opens doors for business co-operation.
Olga Volkova from the Ministry of Economic Development of the republic of Karelia told about the socio-economic development of the so called mono cities in the Republic of Karelia, i.e . the cities that rely on one industry, and the state support measures available for investors. Timo Rautajoki, managing Director of Lapland Chamber of Commerce, dealt with the same theme in his speech, addressing the changing cities and regions' competitiveness criteria. As a concrete example of "from a mono city to success", Rautajoki mentioned the town of Kemijärvi, which during the 2000s saw the closure of several major production facilities and their socio-economic consequences in the area. Since 2014, Kemijärvi's economy has been on the rise due to the opening of a glulam mill and the approximately EUR 800 million bio production facility under preparations. With investments and new SME companies, Kostomuksha can also develop from a former mono city to a multidisciplinary winner.
Kuhmo city Mayor, Ms Eila Valtanen, presented a new opening for co-operation, addressing the possibilities of ecological wood construction in the renovation and supplementary apartment building activities. Over the last 11 years, Kuhmo has developed energy-efficient wood construction in cooperation with its business network through the Woodpolis Development Center. Valtanen sees potential comparable to the original construction of Kostomuksha in collaboration related to the renovation of old concrete suburbs and, above all, in supplementary construction and in construction of new wooden apartment buildings. This development is empowered by the decades’ history of cooperation and possibly also the CBC funding available.
Dmitry Bazegski from the Karelia CBC Programme, Petrozavodsk branch office, presented the program's experiences and the possibilities from the point of view of business development.
After the coffee break, it was time for more business-related speeches:
- Perspectives for business development, Vera Kovalenko, Director of Human Resources,, OOO ”AEK”
- Development of fish farming in Kostomuksha through an international project, Yuri Danilchuk, ”Kala- ja Marjapojat”
- Processing of soapstone in Kostomuksha, Director Dmitry Baikov, ”Stone group”
- Business development activities and the benefits available in special economic areas, the Karelian Republic Development Center, JSC Development Corporation, project manager Tatiana Chizhan
- Guest House Omelia, Reboly, Vladimir Ignatjuk
- Manufacturing industry and service business from the point of view of the Finnish and Russian companies, Jaakko Seppälä ”OOO Kompania AlHola”, ”EHP Environment Oy” and ”Ecofoster Group Oy”
- Support for business cooperation in Karelia, Ombudsman Elena Gnjotova
- Cross-border cooperation in the construction sector, Camilla Maunu, Finnish Contractors (Suomen urakoitsijat Oy)
After the seminar, there was the possibility of bilateral negotiations, some of which were agreed upon in advance and some on the spot. Also the delegations of Kajaani City and other government authorities negotiated with Kostomuksha City Council on new cooperation opportunities.
In the evening, Finnish guests staying in Kostomuksha enjoyed a local cultural program with dinner, and on Friday morning a visit to the local building company “Inkod” was organised. Mr Anatoli Nasonkov, CEO of the company, presented the company's operations and future construction projects. Inkod has, for example, built a complete detached and terraced housing area near the center of Kostomuksha, and is currently building a new 40-meter-high Orthodox Church in Kostomuksha.
The organizer of the event was Euregio Karelia with the city of Kostomuksha and the Finland-Russian Society. Euregio Karelia is the area of cooperation between Kainuu, North Karelia, Northern Ostrobothnia and the Republic of Karelia,.
This kind of forums for business matchmaking purpose were hoped to be arranged on a yearly basis in the future. At the same time, the presence of public authorities, in particular in establishing contacts with Russian local authorities, was also seen important.