9 cities and municipalities are preparing to enter the champions league of local development

In preparation for the new round of certification for cities and municipalities with favorable business environments (BFC SEE), a training session was held for representatives of 19 cities and municipalities who expressed interest in joining the BFC SEE Program under the new, IV edition of the BFC SEE standard. Among them are Požarevac, Novi Sad, Leskovac, Šabac, Sombor, Ćuprija, Pećinci, Stara Pazova, Mionica, Lapovo, Kragujevac, Velika Plana, Užice, Loznica, Raška, Kula, Kraljevo, Inđija, and Vranje.

Following introductory remarks by Marko Marić, head of the BFC SEE program at NALED, which emphasized the importance of local coordination teams and collaboration among their members, Jovica Damjanović, an expert on the BFC SEE Program, explained the requirements of the new edition of the standard, with a particular focus on the latest topics covered by the standard - green economy and digitalization.

The BFC SEE program has been implemented since 2012, and so far, over 100 cities and municipalities in the region have gone through the certification process, of which 21 possess a valid BFC certificate, and 17 are in the process of recertification.

The quality of the local business environment is assessed based on more than 60 criteria grouped into 10 categories. These include the possession of a strategic development plan with a plan for capital infrastructure investments, the existence of a functional Office for Local Economic Development, as well as a Business Council for ongoing communication and cooperation with the business sector to create better business conditions.

For every modern local government, it is also essential to have an efficient system for issuing building permits, to possess information on investment opportunities and incentives, and to be transparent regarding the costs of doing business for the economy. It is also necessary to have workforce requalification programs according to the needs of investors. Particularly valued are efforts to stimulate entrepreneurship through financial and non-financial incentives and facilitations, commitment to environmental protection, as well as the digitalization of administrative procedures and solutions for more efficient information dissemination to citizens and businesses. Compliance with the criteria is confirmed by an independent international verification commission.

The BFC SEE program is implemented under the auspices of the Partnership for a Competitive Region (CORE Partnership), which brings together more than 20 institutions and organizations from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, and Kosovo*, with the support of the German Development Cooperation implemented by GIZ.

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