To reduce social and economic differences between Zemgale Planning Region (ZPR) municipalities, strengthen the capacity of specialists and entrepreneurs, create mechanisms for innovation and business development in the region, ZPR has started implementing the project “LV-LOCALDEV-003 Entrepreneurship support measures in the Zemgale Planning Region” (Entrepreneurship in Zemgale).
Relatively high unemployment rates, declining economically active population in rural areas, risks of economic development and social poverty are some of the reasons why ZPR has started implementing this project. To fight with these risks, economic development and solutions are needed. One of the challenges of the moment is the relatively small proportion of innovative companies that could create high value-added goods and services. The planning region, working with all the municipalities of the region, can understand the advantages and untapped potential of each territory, thus not tackling only the consequences or the problems, but working for the unified development of the whole region. In addition, the Zemgale Business Support Center, which is a structural unit of the ZPR, has been working for a long time to improve the business environment of municipalities by promoting cooperation between entrepreneurs and policy makers from various sectors, as well as with business support institutions.
The project “Entrepreneurship in Zemgale” is being implemented under the European Economic Area (EEA) financial instrument program “Local development, poverty reduction and culture cooperation” for the period 2014-2021. The EEA and Norwegian grants are financial support provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Various activities are going to be implemented during the project, including increasing specialist capacity, promoting regional awareness and youth entrepreneurship, increasing employment and competitiveness. Jelgava Local Government, Jēkabpils County Municipality and the non-governmental organization “Innovation Circle Network” from the Kingdom of Norway will work together with ZPR to implement the project.
As a result, brainstorming workshops, competitions and other educational and valuable events will be organized, professional staff and specialists will be trained, business support capacity in municipalities will be strengthened, as well as support for entrepreneurs. The Jelgava City Youth Career Counseling and Motivation Center will also be equipped, a co-creation space for young business talents will be created, as well as other measures will be implemented to achieve the project goals.
“One of the goals of ZUC is to plan the long-term development of the business support environment. Close cooperation with municipalities and partners is essential in achieving this goal – I have always been proud of how wonderful, collaborative community we have created. The second objective is to strengthen the capacity of specialists and entrepreneurs, which brings overall benefits to the improvement and development of the business environment, while the third is the involvement of young people. So far, Zemgale Business Support Center, has carried out a number of small activities, such as creative business idea generation workshops and competition “Creative Zemgale”, but this project will allow to reach a wider range of young people and offer them a lot more,” says Mairita Pauliņa, the head of Zemgale Business Support Center.
The project “Entrepreneurship in Zemgale” is implemented with the support of the European Economic Area Financial Instrument for 2014-2021. The total budget of the project is 969,256 EUR, of which the co-financing of the program is 666,882 EUR.