Ekaterinburg Taking the Lead
29.06.2021 — News
In Ekaterinburg, time is measured on a different scale than in other Russian cities with over a million people. Putting aside the capital Moscow and noble Saint Petersburg for a minute, and taking a closer look at Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Ufa, and Perm, is everyone ready to admit that the energetic pulse of the 21st century metropolis is felt there? Or that sleepy Voronezh really stepped over a million?
In the city on the Iset river, time seems to accelerate. This is partly due to international-level events, in which the city is discovering new meanings and concepts for its development.
"Why is one of the largest exhibitions in Russia, INNOPROM, held in Ekaterinburg? Precisely because it was here that the idea of building an international exhibition mega-center and a modern international mega-airport was conceived earlier than in other cities. We were the first, so to speak. All others, relatively speaking, are simply following the lead," Alexei Pryadein, Director of the Ekaterinburg Administration Economics Department, told RusBusinessNews.
Mr. Pryadein also recalled how naysayers would often discourage the city government saying, "You are building castles in the air", "You will not be able to do this", or "You will not have the money or resolve." Nevertheless, the Ural capital proved that it could. In many respects, it is those people who decide to ignore empty conversations about business projects, choosing rather to actually implement them, who contributed the most to this success.
The private industrial park aptly named PRO-BUSINESS PARK is growing in leaps and bounds on Polevskoy highway just outside Ekaterinburg. In its eleven years of existence, it has attracted twenty-five companies that have established permanent bases there.
As Denis Remezov, the management company's general director, notes, private parks most often work "from the market", understanding and anticipating their clients’ needs.
"Public money is generally toxic, so to speak. You take the money today, and tomorrow, you have the city guys knocking at your door asking to take a look at your accounting statements. The bright side to this is that in recent years, the situation has been changing for the better. I simply must thank Sverdlovsk Region's Minister of Investment and Development and Head of the Ekaterinburg Administration Alexey Orlov. These are people who understand the region's investment specifics quite clearly," he notes.
PRO-BUSINESS PARK leaseholders are jobs, taxes, production technologies, and logistics. All this has an impact on the city's everyday operations. There is an absolute need for a productive dialogue with the city authorities.
"An important business principle is ‘we don’t need help, but please don’t bother us either’ (laughs). They know about our project in the city administration, and they visit us every so often, giving recommendations. What's important here is to bring together the residents, the city authorities, and the management company so that we all hear each other out and understand where each of us is coming from, and it'll be a win-win for everyone," Remezov is sure.
Any city is interested in generating revenue. This can be investments in infrastructure and business or spending by guests at hotels, restaurants and shops. Ekaterinburg administration envisions transforming the city into a major financial hub.
"The idea of establishing a financial cluster quite fascinates me. We'd very much like major banks to set up their macro-regional headquarters right here. We look forward to having them here permanently. Most importantly – they must be ready to invest in various projects," Alexei Pryadein emphasises.
Among a host of other major businesses and organisations, Bank Otkritie is quite interested in such cooperation. Natalia Alemasova, the bank's governor in the Sverdlovsk Region, has noted that the focus is on encouraging participation in financial infrastructure development projects, financing investment projects being implemented in Ekaterinburg under the city authorities’ direction.
"The bank is especially ready, once such a need arises, to finance Ekaterinburg's budget, to undertake expert appraisal exercises, and to be a party to public-private partnership (PPP) projects. Programs to modernise the city's public transport fleet, to construct social infrastructure facilities, and so on, are excellent examples," she explained.
The bank emphasises that Ekaterinburg is one of Otkritie's priority cities and regions for business development.
"This is a major industrial and economic center where business life develops, which is inconceivable without top-class banking services. We are expanding our business activity in the city every year, growing and investing in creating our own financial services network in the city, updating and opening new service centers, because we see great potential for us in Ekaterinburg," Natalia Alemasova told Uralinform.
In Ekaterinburg, Bank Otkritie employs more than 150 highly qualified specialists focused on promoting the interests of the bank's branches across Russia. While they may report to the bank's head office, they indeed live and work in the city on the Iset river.
Trail of Benefits
The cooperation of Ekaterinburg's authorities with Russian Railways, OJSC today has a serious potential for the city's development. The first port of call is building the Ekaterinburg Ring Road, which will directly link the central parts of the metropolis to its actively developing areas.
"The most important factor for us here is the city's planning blueprint. New city districts, new housing development – all currently actively underway. Once open, the transport ring will allow commuters to get to any part of the city under 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the diametrical routes – the current Ekaterinburg-Passazhirsky-Keramik being a great example, will allow travellers to get to the city center in just 15 minutes," Ivan Kolesnikov, Head of Sverdlovsk Railway, explains.
There are enough promising directions: the Novokoltsovsky route (covering the residential sector, the Ekaterinburg-EXPO IEC and future Universiade facilities, logistics centers on Koltsovsky highway, the airport); the South-Western Bypass (should connect the city center with the developing residential districts of Solnechny, Akademichesky, and Shirokaya Rechka, as well as with the future VIZ-Pravoberezhny District); neighboring municipalities.
Ekaterinburg is also a developing "commodity" city. Projects for the development of transport and logistics infrastructure are resulting in higher freight train flows. One specific plan in this regard involves a project currently being conceptualised to build a European-style transport and logistics center as a so-called "cargo village" near Sedelnikovo Station (30 kilometres from the city). In addition to the transport and warehouse facilities, this future hub could also house manufacturing complexes and other functional zones, and residents will be able to optimise raw materials supply and finished products export costs.
"This will create a gigantic logistics hub surrounded by production sites. This colossus of infrastructure and commerce will provide small and medium-sized businesses an opportunity to develop and flourish". The conventional distribution center has become obsolete. But once it begins dealing in the distribution of products made in its own backyard, we are already talking about technology and high VAT," Alexei Pryadein believes.
Ivan Kolesnikov points out that the construction project for the center is now at its pre-design stage. The project is expected to begin in earnest in 2024-2025.
"Using the new center at the intersection of railway lines, motorways, and an air terminal, business will be able to develop areas with high added value. Facilities for easy handling of oversized and heavy cargo and contrailer-transportable containers and goods will be readily available. This is a point of development for environmentally-friendly prospective business areas," Sverdlovsk Railway emphasises.
Ekaterinburg's potential as a modern-day commercial hub is growing steadily against all odds and to everyone's astonishment. There are those in the business community who failed to use their chance to invest in the metropolis' development in time. In the city on the Iset river, time is indeed running fast, and as for latecomers, well, they had it coming.
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