Activities to promote regional attractiveness, successfully initiated during the project Invest and Grow in Kuopio Region (INGROW), will now continue. The expansion project starting in October will create visibility and strong cooperation across the region of North Savo.
Focusing on improving the business climate, INGROW will now be followed by another project. Starting in the beginning of October, the project entitled Invest and Expand in Pohjois-Savo includes not only Kuopio, but also Iisalmi, Siilinjärvi, Leppävirta, Varkaus and Joroinen. The aim is to expand the work done during the INGROW project, concluded at the end of September, throughout North Savo.
“The aim of the ‘Invest in’ work has been to increase the attractiveness of Kuopio as an investment by improving the business climate in our region,” says Business Promotion Officer of BusinessKuopio Mika Raatikainen who also worked as the Project Manager of INGROW.
The project has improved the international recognition and visibility of the cutting-edge knowledge, businesses, and innovation and development platforms in the Kuopio region. The work has involved events and internationalization trips to e.g. the Nordic countries and London, allowing businesses participating in the project to make new connections abroad and expand their networks.
As a university city, Kuopio has the potential to grow into an even stronger hub of talent, the largest in Eastern Finland, as this jewel of Lake Kallavesi brings together the full range of competencies in the business world. Big companies, start-ups and world-class research combined with regional partners and a practical, comfortable environment provide an attractive setting for living, working and leisure activities. In addition, its diverse range of available education options and active business ecosystems make the Kuopio region a first-rate location for a developing business, product development and industry.
“Internationality will become even more significant for Kuopio in the future, which is why it is crucial that the city is actively involved in business networks. Our task is to improve the recognition of our region, on both a national and an international level,” says Director of Business Development for the City of Kuopio Jukka Pitkänen.
Recently, efforts to attract new investments have strongly relied on competence in the Savilahti district. The city has supported the growth of businesses in the region as they enter the international market. Marketing of the opportunities offered by Savilahti has also brought new talent and businesses to the area.
“As a city, we have given businesses the services they need and helped them find business premises and suitable employees, among other things. In addition, we promote labour immigration and the settling of international students in the region.”
Pitkänen finds it great that the work done on behalf of internationalization for years has materialized through the INGROW project. If the bioproduct mill envisioned in Sorsasalo will become reality, we will gain yet another new investment that will benefit business and economy in Kuopio.
“If Finnpulp is built, we are talking about investments of up to 1.6 billion euros, which also involve the largest manufacturer of hygiene products in China, Hengan International.”
Intriguing corporate transactions have also taken place in the Savilahti district, in e.g. drug development and health technology companies, which have brought investments of up to hundreds of millions of euros into the economic region.
Other major international investments supported by the city have been the arrival of IKEA and Matkus Shopping Center to Kuopio.
Under the Invest and Expand in Pohjois-Savo project, starting in October, attention will focus on competence in the entire region of North Savo.
“Invest and Expand in Pohjois-Savo is a welcome follow-up project to an approach that has been proven effective. It is truly great that we can pool the strengths of the entire travel-to-work area of North Savo into one package,” says Pitkänen.
Pitkänen also mentions the strong technological competence in Iisalmi and the speciality of Varkaus as a location with cutting-edge energy knowledge. One of the project measures will be to survey potential interest towards the data centre envisioned in the region of Varkaus and Joroinen.
“Regional collaboration will bring even more international talent to this region, giving us even better opportunities to obtain international funding for business investments and activities.”
An excellent illustration of the power of collaboration was recently seen in the form of a new capital investment fund. The work done by the cities of Kuopio, Varkaus and Iisalmi on behalf of a 10-million-euro capital investment fund for North Savo will bear fruit in the form of future investments in the key areas of competence in North Savo.
“Obtaining even more investment funding also through the Invest and Expand project requires the commitment of regional businesses in the ‘Invest in’ efforts. The more vital our region appears, the more favourable the impact on the ranking of Kuopio and North Savo as a whole in the competition between growth centres,” says Pitkänen.
Text: Maiju Korhonen
The article is part of the communication of the Invest and Grow in Kuopio Region (INGROW) project. Invest and Grow in Kuopio Region project is coordinated by the Business Development Services of City of Kuopio (1.1.2018–30.9.2020). Funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Leverage from the EU 2014–2020, Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo and the City of Kuopio.