Could a Slavonian revival be on the cards? While the region continues to undergo its signature hardships, some encouraging business news emerged out of Eastern Croatia last year…
When you think of Slavonia, you likely think of what was once the bread basket of the entire country having now been left to rot, proverbially of course. The overlooked Eastern region of Croatia once fed the country, but is now struggling with its main export being man power and human labour heading off to other EU countries to try their luck at better lives and more economic stability.
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 9th of March, 2020, according to data published by the gradonacelnik.hr (mayor.hr) portal, 15,445 new companies were opened in Croatia last year, 1178 more than were opened back in 2018.
However, 10,814 enterprises were closed or deleted from the court registers, 623 more than in the previous year. This is evidenced by data from the court registry of the Ministry of Justice, which confirms the continuation of positive trends and the growth of entrepreneurship in Croatia, which, including 2017, saw the opening of more than 43,000 new companies and the closure of just over 33,000, according to Glas Slavonije.
Data on the number of companies opened has been summarised in the registers of the commercial courts at which they were registered, and the figures are such that five out of nine commercial courts in Croatia (noting that the one in Dubrovnik started operating only in September last year) show positive trends, ie growth in the number of companies opened.
The largest increase over the previous year was recorded by the Commercial Court in Bjelovar, which has taken numerous praiseworthy steps in being more transparent and citizen-friendly, followed by TS Osijek. Could this mean the beginning, albeit humble, of a desperately needed Slavonian revival?
The Osijek Commercial Court covers the territories of the Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem counties, and has a permanent service in Slavonski Brod with its jurisdiction, and for such a large territorial area, it should not be surprising that such a large increase in companies being opened.
However, the value of the figure 1467 should not be diminished at all, as it is almost a third (30.6 percent) more than the year before. In the two previous years, more than a thousand companies were founded. Much has been written about this kind of awakening of the local Slavonian economy, a Slavonian revival if you will, and the total income of the Osijek-Baranja economy for the last year stood at 28.5 billion kuna, which is an increase of 2.2 billion in just one year.
The incentive role of local self-government units must not be neglected. In the past two years, Osijek-Baranja County has doubled its support for entrepreneurship, from 4.2 million to 8.6 million kuna. In addition, the County participates in subsidising interest rates for loans to entrepreneurs, proactively participating in everything that, according to Mayor Ivan Anusic, will increase the competitiveness of local companies, but also create new businesses and companies, new values, professions and most importantly of all – new jobs.
Similar trends exist in the City of Osijek itself, where an encouraging 427 companies were founded last year. Entrepreneurship grants from the City of Osijek budget have increased to almost seven million kuna now, and Mayor Ivan Vrkic points out that there have been 2.5 thousand new employees in Osijek. The model in which the City of Osijek subsidises the cost of two gross salaries for each new employee is one excellent example. Conditions, however, are local-patriotic – the company must be based in Osijek, and the (newly) employed person must be an Osijek resident.
However, the biggest boom in entrepreneurship took place in Bjelovar. Last year, 654 new companies were registered with the Commercial Court, which is a massive 71.65 percent more than the year before, and 93.49 percent more than in 2017, when Dario Hrebak took over the management of the city and launched a series of measures to encourage entrepreneurship, about which we have written extensively.
”We want to show that one can succeed if one thinks of the common good rather than the individual good. The real indicators of this work, which I expect to see, are yet to be seen and that will take a few years. It’s important that we’ve shown that this model of managing public resources can be changed and that we’ve shown that its redesign is very possible,” Bjelovar Mayor Dario Hrebak said for gradonacelnik.hr.
After Bjelovar and Osijek and away from the deeply desired Slavonian revival, the Dalmatian city of Zadar recorded the highest growth. Mayor Branko Dukic pointed out that this is the fourth consecutive year in which all economic indicators have been continuously and significantly growing, and that Zadar today is a city of dynamic and agile entrepreneurship.
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