U.S. and Serbian Governments Celebrate Local Economic Development Successes

U.S. and Serbian Governments Celebrate Local Economic Development Successes
USAID's Sustainable Local Development project's closing event at the Kinoteka in Belgrade.
USAID Serbia

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

BELGRADE – On Tuesday, July 12, 2016, USAID and representatives of 32 municipalities celebrated local economic development successes and best practices, to mark the closure of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Sustainable Local Development Project (SLDP).

“Over the past six years, the United States Government through USAID’s Sustainable Local Development Project, partnered with 32 Serbian municipalities clustered in eight regions that were able to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments in the region and create thousands of new jobs, that reduced unemployment at the local level”, said U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott.

The Project’s core activities focused on supporting municipalities to create jobs and reduce unemployment. Through training, study tours, visits to investment fairs and individual coaching, USAID helped local economic development officials learn how to target and attract investors, manage their public assets, establish public-private partnerships and efficiently provide support to existing companies.

In Sombor, USAID partnered with the city to establish the Regional Agriculture Education Center and provided coaching to attract foreign direct investments. As a result, Ferrero Group, a global market leader in the confectionery industry, made an $8.8 million investment and purchased approximately 700 hectares of land in Sombor in 2015. The land will be used for hazelnut production in the next two years.

Through the Project, USAID engaged domestic and international experts to work with the producers of jeans, furniture, food and footwear to better their production and promotion, introduce innovation and modern technology, and establish links with potential buyers. “Our experts worked with nine small and medium-size enterprise associations and supported educational institutions and 69 individual companies”, said Howard Ockman, SLDP Director.

Bratislav Đorđević, General Manager of Stefi Komerc, a footwear company in Vranje, noted “USAID’s international footwear expert helped us improve production, select product assortment, and meet interested foreign buyers. Thanks to these interventions, we are in the final stage of negotiating a contract with a large buyer from the United Kingdom.”

USAID’s Sustainable Local Development Project (SLDP) was a six-year, $22 million initiative, implemented by Chemonics International.