Inese Kurvina, the development manager of the Vecās ostmalas business park and developers of the Liepaja Special Economic Zone (SEZ) business park have observed that in the geopolitical situation, Nordic investors are looking for opportunities not only in the Far East, but in the Baltic States, including Liepāja.
Currently, 22 tenants are working on the territory of the Vecās Ostmalas Biznesa Parks (Old Port Business Park, VOBP), which is close to the city center. Businesses include furniture and window manufacturers, metalworking companies and other domestic and foreign enterprises. Since 2015, the area where the former "Baltija" woodworking factory was located has been overhauled.
Another hangar will soon be built on the territory of the VOBP, where a new tenant will start work in the fall. Jānis Akerfelds, a member of the VOBP board, said: "We are at a historic moment when you are still looking at an empty field, but in the fall a new factory will be ready here. The total investment in this project will be 1.7 million euros. A contract has been signed with a Swedish company, but for now it is still a secret. It will be a new company for both Liepāja and Latvia. There will be a new investor in Liepāja." The new light industry company with Swedish investment promises to provide 30 to 50 new jobs.
When asked why the mystery investor chose Liepāja, Akerfelds mentioned the geopolitical conditions: "The whole business environment is changing. Scandinavian companies that previously worked in China are now coming closer to home, to the Baltics. Why Liepāja? Of course, companies are evaluating Tallinn, Kaunas, Ventspils, but we have won this competition. We have a good offer in Liepāja, that's true."
Cheaper labor is no longer a major argument, as wages are increasingly equalizing and paying less is more difficult, the businessman explained. The proximity of the port, new and high-quality factories, where production can be located, and other advantages are also attractive.
Relatively recently, VOBP also managed to attract Finnish investments. Metalworking company SIA Premekon is now working in Liepāja. The director of the company, Edgars Anševics, said that the company started working in the business park in November 2021. The company is engaged in the production of metal structures, such as industrial platforms and steps.
Anševics noted: "In the beginning, they were only interested in opening a design office, but the management of the parent company realized that they also wanted to establish a production company in Latvia; after visiting many places in Jelgava region and Rīga, they chose Liepāja. One of the criteria was Liepāja's SEZ (special economic zone) concessions, which can be obtained, and the experience of other Scandinavians followed them."
Production is located in Liepāja, but the design office is in Rīga, the company's representative said. At the moment, the situation with supplies has stabilized, it is felt that the business environment is adapting to the current difficulties against the background of the war in Ukraine.
"Right when the war started, it was a bit noticeable, not in terms of the increase in price, but in terms of insufficient resources, it was very difficult to get metal profiles and those kinds of products, everything has stabilized in terms of prices, deliveries are also fast and timely," said Anševics.
For Liepāja's business environment, the Scandinavian experience has been a great and rapid contribution to development, said Inese Kurvina, the development manager of VOBP. Over the next two years, three hangars will be built in the business park, the already mentioned 3,000 square meter area and two more – each 2,000 square meters in size. With this, the capacity of the business park in Old Ostmal will be exhausted.
"Development has taken place in stages, something needs to be arranged in order to be able to fulfill the next steps. After purchasing the territory, almost all communications had to be rebuilt, at the moment it could be said that everything that is underground has been completed, the easiest part remains," noted Kurvina.
The developers of the VOBP, who currently manage 3.5 hectares, have recently purchased another commercial area that is almost three times larger, where they will continue to develop their business ideas under the banner of the Northside Business Park.