Many of them facilitate the conduct of business to the greatest extent possible, in a manner that the investor “is lead by the hand” from the planning stage to completion.
The Katowicka Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) draws entrepreneurs to Silesia like a magnet. Operationing since 1996, it is the leader of Polish economic zones. It has already concentrated well over 200 companies from, inter alia, the following industries: automotive industry (60.4%), glass products (6.6%), construction (4.9%), metal (4.1%), machinery (3.5%), and household equipment (2.2%).
Entrepreneurs have already invested well over PLN 21.5 billion and created over 53,000 jobs.
It is worthwhile to remind that the KSEZ has been recognized by Business Financial Times – FDI ranking – as the second best European and eleventh best economic zone in the world.
KSEZ is a dispersed zone, which consists of four sub-zones: Gliwice, Jastębie-Zdrój-Żory, Tychy and Sosnowiec-Dąbrowa Górnicza. Most investment areas are concentrated within the Śląskie Voivodeship, however, it also has territory in the Opolskie Voivodeship and Małopolskie Voivodeship. As a whole, the KSEZ covers over 2348 ha and well over 45 various areas, which allows investors to choose the most convenient location.
Most Zone areas are in the vicinity of international routes: East-West (Lvov – Wrocław-Berlin) and North-South (Gdańsk-Cieszyn-Bratislava), and close to the junction of the A1 and A4 Motorways. The KSEZ is not only the optimal venue for industrial investments, but also for BPO/IT and R&D companies. Numerous Class A office buildings have been erected, and others are being completed.
The prime advantage of the KSEZ’s location is the best developed technical infrastructure in Poland: the best Polish road and motorway network, Katowice International Airport in Pyrzowice, Kraków International Airport in Balice, the inland port in Gliwice, a highly developed railroad network, the International Logistics Centre in Sławków (a wide gauge railroad terminal – which connects Sławków via Hrubieszów and Lvov with Ukrainian and Russian railroads, and subsequently with the Far East). Most investment areas possess the indispensable technical infrastructure (water, electrical power, gas) and access roads. An investor, who sets his mind on doing business in the KSEZ can count on income tax relief. Such tax exemption can be calculated in two ways.
Where the exemption is based on capital expenditure expenses, the total tax relief for a large entrepreneur may be at a level of 25% (35% in Opolskie Voivodeship and Małopolskie Voivodeship, where the Zone also holds certain areas) of incurred expenses; the tax relief for medium-size and small enterprises is, as appropriate, 10 and 20%, or more.
Eligible expenses covered by assistance are capital expenditure expenses (less input VAT and excise tax, where they may be deducted under separate regulations) incurred within the Zone during the validity of the permit, which are: the price of purchasing land or perpetual usufruct; the purchase price or expenses of manufacturing fixed assets, provided that they are classified, pursuant to other regulations, as the taxpayer’s assets; expenses of expanding or modernizing existing fixed assets; purchase price of intangible assets related to transfer of technology through the purchase of patents, licenses, know-how or non-patented technological knowledge; expenses of rental or leasing of land, buildings and structures – provided that the rent or lease period lasts for at least 5 years, and in the case of small and medium-size enterprises – at least 3 years, counting from the envisaged date of completing the new investment project; purchase price of assets other than land, buildings and structures, rented or leased, where rental or leasing is in the form of a financial lease and includes the obligation of purchasing assets at the expiry date of the rental or lease.
Where the tax relief is calculated in accordance with the number of created jobs, the total amount of the tax relief may be at a level of 25% (35% in Opolskie Voivodeship and Małopolskie Voivodeship) of employment expenses for the newly created jobs within the Zone; the tax relief for medium-size and small enterprises is, as appropriate, 10 and 20%, or more.
One must solicit a permit in order to commence business within the Zone. The relevant procedures are not complicated. The prerequisite for obtaining a permit in fact involves the satisfaction of two criteria: creation of a defined number of new jobs within the Zone by a fixed date or incurring a defined amount of capital expenditures within the Zone by a fixed date. The investor sets out the date of satisfying these two conditions. The expression “newly hired employees” shall mean the number of employees hired following the solicitation of a permit for conducting business within the Zone in connection with the preparation and completion of a new investment project.
Entrepreneurs investing within the KSEZ may also count on additional assistance and support on its part: active intermediation in real property within the Zone’s environs; consulting; training sessions on the operation of special economic zones; maintenance of a base of potential service providers conducive for the completion of the investment project within the KSEZ - “one-stop-shop”; rental of office and warehouse space; activities supporting cooperation in the region; personnel consulting and personnel training conducted by the Personnel Development Centre based in the Tychy Sub-zone; industrial medicine services.
It must be stressed that in certain towns investors can also receive support from the local labour offices, which pay for intern training and provide financing for new jobs.
Large-scale investment projects, not necessarily situated within the KSEZ, are additionally favoured by the Government. Under such circumstances, an investor may enjoy the following benefits: tax-exemption up to a period of even 10 years, fiscal relief – also outside the Zone, support for particular industries, subsidies for investment projects in areas with huge unemployment, special laws w3hich take investors into account, a shortened time for administrative procedures servicing the investment project, purchase of real property at preferential prices or without tenders.
Investors will find numerous and helpful business environment institutions not only within the Zone, but in the whole Voivodeship. These include: regional and local development agencies, chambers of business, chambers of industry, chambers of commerce, guilds and entrepreneurship support centres, consulting and business information centres, as well as business associations.
These units offer: advisory and consulting services (including the absorption of new technology, introduction of quality management systems, certificate solicitation, as well as solicitation of national and EU funds for company expansion); a broad range of training services; basic and specialist IT services; financial services such as: granting of loans, guarantees, credit security; assistance in establishing business contacts by inter alia, organizing economic and trade missions, business meetings, etc.
Regional institutions may also be helpful to business: the Regional Chamber of Business, The Chamber of Artisans and Small and Medium-Size Entrepreneurship in Katowice, the Upper Silesian Regional Development Agency (Polish abbr.: GARR), Upper Silesian Entrepreneurship Promotion Agency (Polish abbr.: GAPP) and the Upper Silesian Fund. Furthermore, loan, guarantee and venture capital funds are also operating. These include the Śląski Regionalny Fundusz Poręczeniowy (Silesian Regional Surety Fund,) as well as loan funds operating within the structures of GARR and GAPP. Entrepreneurship incubators and industrial and technological parks are also active within the Voivodeship.
The following industrial and technological parks operating within the region must be mentioned: Górnośląski Park Przemysłowy, Park Naukowo-Technologiczny „Technopark Gliwice”, Sosnowiecki Park Naukowo-Technologiczny and Śląski Park Przemysłowo-Technologiczny.
Each park has a rich business offer- there is plenty to choose from. For example, „Technopark Gliwice” provides innovation audits, mentoring and consulting services, as well as the option of adding the company to the so-called virtual incubator, which allows its registration at a known and prestigious address without the need of actually renting premises.
Most of the region’s cities also have entrepreneurship incubators. These companies are involved in creating conditions for the development of enterprises, in particular for innovative companies by providing them with infrastructure, marketing and training support.
Where someone does not wish to invest within the Economic Zone – for example due to the nature of business or for geographical reasons, it is easy to find the appropriate land for the investment project. Ongoing listings of all areas and structures prepared for investment projects are kept by, inter alia, the region’s authorities. A detailed list, also available in English, with a breakdown of green areas, manufacturing halls and office space, can be found at the Silesian Investors’ and Exporters’ Assistance Centre website: http://invest.slaskie.pl/. The very same website also contains numerous other guidelines, which not only pertain to investment offers, but to the region as a whole, its resources, entrepreneurship and business environment.
An up to date interactive map of Silesian investment areas can also be found on the http://invest-in-silesia.pl/?page=oferty-inwestycyjne website. Entrepreneurs wishing to exhibit their products or services, for example during fairs, in all likelihood take into account during the course of planning that the Śląskie Voivodeship is one of the country’s most important exhibition and fair centres. Fairs are organized in the country’s largest sports and events hall – “Spodek”. A modern site has also been opened in Sosnowiec in 2008 - Centrum Targowo-Wystawiennicze Expo Silesia. The European Economic Congress is organized every year in Katowice. This is a recognized and largest business event in Central Europe, which provides an opportunity for an exchange of views among political, business, academic and economic elites.