Cluster Approach and Information Technologies for Local Administration and Sustainable Development of Rural Areas
About of project:
Project Period: 01.04.2015 – 31.03.2017
Budget: € 334,700; EU contribution – € 300,000
Implementing Agency: Smarhoń District Executive Committee,
Location: Hrodna Region, the town of Smarhoń, areas of Zaliessie and Kreva Rural Councils
National economic problems and the global crisis have a markedly negative effect on the regions, where household income drops faster, and employment and development opportunities shrink more than anywhere else. All these factors result in local residents, especially young people, leaving for the capital and larger cities. Villages become empty, which further complicates rural life.
Project Goals and Objectives: Raise living standards in a selected area of two rural councils. The establishment of an economic cluster would help develop local entrepreneurship. Information exchange, coordination of plans and joint cluster work would guarantee success of small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well the region in general. The experience gained in implementing the Project could be further disseminated across other rural areas of Belarus.
Intermediate Outcomes: Tourist destinations – 21 farms in Zaliesse and Kreva Rural Councils of Smarhoń District were selected as the economic cluster basis.
Awareness-raising/training meetings and round tables were arranged for farm owners and local residents. The participants learned how the cluster interaction system functions, how to successfully promote and sell services via the Internet; they gained practical interaction skills based on the experience of their colleagues from Lithuania; they were also able to independently prepare and submit 10 applications for a contest on establishing and developing enterprises in the region.
The Project staff surveyed the economic potential of Smarhoń District, and its tourism development capacity. Recommendations for local authorities, business and the residents will be developed on the basis of the findings.
A computer team is developing a uniform cluster information portal, where the farms can advertise their services and receive orders. A joint registration, planning and information exchange system was established for the cluster participants.
Also, it is planned to establish a computerized system of mutual financial and credit support by the end of the Project. Thus, all documents will be prepared and maintained centrally, which will help save time and effort spent on managing document turnover.
By the end of 2017, the economic cluster will be completely autonomous and self-supporting. Its operations should substantially boost the attractiveness of living in Smarhoń District.
Points of Contact: Aleksandr Sinkevich, Project Manager
Project Website: http://www.clusters.by/