Extensive assistance is provided by the regional Investors’ and Exporters’ Assistance Centre (COIE), established together with other similar Voivodeship centres in Poland owing to the EU Innovative Economy Project. The Silesian COIE website - (http://slaskie.coie.gov.pl/pl/dla-inwestorow/) –is in itself a source valuable information, available on a remote basis.
The Silesian COIE, operating within the structures of the Office of the Marshall of Śląskie Voivodeship in Katowice, provides, within the framework of pro-export activities, business information regarding the region to interested foreign investors. Accordingly, the Centre is also involved in the promotion of investment bids of communes and counties within the region. As for the information provided by COIE – it concerns indispensable data as to, inter alia, conditions of investing and running business in general. The Centre is also an intermediary in establishing contacts with business partners wishing to establish cooperation. It also organizes and receives – together with local government authorities and with the business environment – economic missions. As the Silesian region has broad contacts with Trade and Investment Promotion Sections (Polish abbr.: WPHI) of Polish Embassies and Consulates, and cooperates with partnership regions abroad (15 regions from 12 European states), this creates additional opportunities for successful access to foreign markets by exporters, who plan their actions.
The following European regions are partners of the Śląskie Voivodeship: Nord – Pas de Calais region (France), Nordrhein-Westfalen (Germany), L'viv oblast (Ukraine), Moravskoslezský Kraj (Czech Republic), Chernivtsi Oblast (Ukraine), Wales (UK), Self-governing Ltyliński Kraj (Slovakia), Styria (Austria), Asturias Autonomous Community (Spain), Västra Götaland region (Sweden), Basse-Rhin Department (France), Suceava County (Romania), Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen County (Hungary), Wallonia Community (Belgium), Donets'k oblast (Ukraine).
What exactly can an exporter count on upon applying for assistance to the Silesian COIE? First, he can expect the Centre to help him become aware of the market for his products and investments, including outside of Poland. Second, data bases will be searched for all available information regarding his potential business partners for exports, as well as guidelines for investing in a selected foreign market. These are, inter alia, sources with statistical and marketing data about countries, their markets, industries and companies. Another form of assistance is the exhibition of the company’s promotional materials at the relevant fairs and exhibits for a particular industry (including international events). The entrepreneur can also count on the dissemination of offer inquiries.
It is very important to the entrepreneur that the Silesian Centre will advise him as to any available at any particular time export support measures in the financial, services and institutional dimension.
Thanks to the support system within the framework of the European Regional Development Fund (during the 2007-2013 financial period), exporters in the Śląskie Voivodeship can count on a number of subsidies, provided they are implementing projects which increase the investment capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises.
The maximum subsidy may amount up to PLN 750,000 during the formation of a new or expansion of an existing business. The following activities are eligible for the same maximum amount of the subsidy: modernization measures within enterprises; commencement or expansion of exports; implementation of joint investment ventures by a group of 3 – 5 enterprises (the quoted maximum amount is applicable to each of these companies under such circumstances); application and use of e-business; ICT application in enterprise management; adaptation of technology and products to the requirements of EU directives, in particular to harmonized standards, and to industrial safety and environmental legislation.
A subsidy up to PLN 100,000 may be granted for the following purposes: the enterprise participates in international fairs and exhibitions, and in economic missions related to fairs and exhibitions abroad; for designing, implementation and improvement consulting services regarding: new products or services, marketing plans, company development strategy, quality management systems, environmental management, industrial safety and health, certification of: products, services, raw materials, machinery and equipment, measuring devices and staff qualifications; for consulting services regarding the commencement and expansion of exports, mergers among small and medium-sized companies, and within the range of IT application and use in businesses.
Financing for the afore-mentioned projects amounts to: 60% of eligible expenses – for small enterprises, and 50% - for medium-size enterprises.
The entrepreneur must absolutely remember and keep in mind that in settling subsidies with the EU, eligible expenses are those expenses that were described, approved, indispensable and have been actually incurred and documented within the framework of the project, for which the subsidy had been granted.
It is already clear that the planned new EU budget (the 2014 – 2020 period) will provide for public assistance for entrepreneurs – in the form of subsidies - within the region of up to 25% of the expenses. Poland is to receive a total of EUR 82.5 billion during the new financial period, of which EUR 31 billion will be earmarked for regional programmes. Regions can also count on funds from national programmes.
Negotiations concerning Polish national and regional EU funds are pending since July 2014. Details on assistance to companies within the Silesian Region will only be known after the approval of the Regional Operational Programme of the Śląskie Voivodeship for 2014 – 2020.
For obvious reasons, entrepreneurs utilizing regional assistance are greatly interested in EU subsidies. However, not every company – including exporting companies – will satisfy the terms and conditions for receiving such assistance. For this very reason, attention is drawn to another support mechanism – repayable financial instruments. These are, for example, loans with preferential terms and conditions. Repayable financial instruments had constituted only 1.5% of the EU budget during the 2007-13 financial period; during the new financial period – 2012 - 20 – this is supposed to be 15% of the total amount as far as funds for Poland are concerned. Accordingly, the availability of low interest funds for some entrepreneurs, including exporters, will also increase for the Śląskie Voivodeship.
At this point, it is worth reminding that exporters wishing to establish their business within the Katowicka Special Economic Zone may also count on income tax relief in force within the Zone. 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.