Priority axis no. 3: Economic and social development.
Key area of intervention no 3.1: Support for cross - border business cooperation and promotion of a regional image and identity Project Title: Bridging the Gaps: Integrated cross- border business infrastructure and services in Silistra District - Calarasi County
Based on the increased economic activities in the cross-border area and with the financial help of the PHARE 2005 programme, in 2008 Calarasi County Council set up a Business Center to assist connections and provide space for cross-border business initiaitives. After the launch of the facility it has become clear that to effectively support cross-border business cooperation, it needs to integrate with similar BG business infrastructure and function on joint business service system.
Being aware of these necessities, the project Leader additionally surveyed the demands for business services and infrastructure to support cross-border entrepreneurship initiatives. The results confirmed that sustainable cross-border business cooperation requires the existence of quality business infrastructure, joint service provision and professional teams, which are currently not available in Silistra-Calarasi area.
Based on these conclusions, the ARCI team of economic development experts and Calarasi Business Center team jointly discussed how to resolve these issues of common concerns. They supported the idea to set up and construct Silistra Logistics Center to compliment and integrate with Calarasi Business Center and to install a web-based information platform to secure the joint provision of knowledge-based business services. To encourage the cross-border sharing of information on employment opportunities, they invited Calarasi County Agency for Employment to join. Then to set up a broader partnership and expand information resources, they also partnered with Silistra Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The drafting of the application form and the technical documentation (preliminary design) were consulted under Contract BG 2006/018-386.01.03-01 Technical Assistance to support the Romania – Bulgaria CBC programme
The project plans to ‘bridge the gaps’ among the economic development stakeholders. Thus it first invests in constructing and equipping Silistra Logistics Center. Then the Action encourages the stakeholders to integrate their information data and resources into a joint web-based platform, which incorporates labour market statistics, supported by state agencies for employment, cross-border business data, provided by relevant NGOs and packages of business-related services, developed by the project and based on BG-RO regulatory procedures. To improve access to this information and contribute to cross-border job mobility, the project installs six info kiosks in public places.
Having set the joint information system, the project trains the RO-BG team to identify and technologically map the provision of business services, generated by the integrated Centers. Then in line with the Lisbon Agenda and to add value to the services, the project further invests in human capacity via language courses, working meetings and job shadowing. The project team is enabled to establish professional linkages and e-communication, which form a significant part of networking and ‘bridge another gap’. Having established the network, the project plans to institutionalize it by enforcing common regulations, incl. the principles of equal opportunities and life-long learning. Part of the networking and integrated provision of services will also be attracting ‘green businesses’ and ‘green jobs’ as well as promoting RO-BG environmental legislation and energy efficiency. In line with the EU Initiatives on Growth and Jobs, the Action works on marketing the joint service provision by organizing Business and Job Fairs, developing a joint Communication plan for the Centers, implementing media and promotion campaigns.
Thus by constructing a flexible web-based informational platform for service provision, supported by high quality IT hardware and professional team of RO-BG experts, housed in Silistra Logistics Center for Entrepreneurship Development, the project stimulates cross-border economic development and entrepreneurship initiatives. Last but not least, as the project results are of relevance to the wider cooperation area, the Action set grounds for transferring the acquired skills, services and information to other parts of the programme area (Ruse, Dobrich – Giurgiu – letters of support are provided).