Entrepreneurship can be developed on the basis of local products, history or a restored area
What do Hajnówka and Jarosław have in common? What idea from Hajnowka could work in Nisko? It turns out that there are many such things. Getting to know them can be extremely informative and inspiring. To do this, however, you have to meet. The several-day visit of local government representatives in Hajnówka served to exchange experiences and learn about good practices.
This is not the first meeting of this type. The Association of Polish Cities, with which we work closely, has long been connecting local governments in the network, organizing various types of training and workshops, thanks to which we can establish valuable contacts and develop. This time, the key to selecting local governments was the Local Development Program – the meeting was attended by representatives of the winning cities – and the EMPIRIE Entrepreneurial Cities Network. However, the meeting was so special that Hajnówka was its host. Last week, for three days, we hosted representatives of such cities as Nisko, Jarosław, Stalowa Wola, Piła, Hrubieszów, Zabrze, Opoczno and Zawiercie, as well as advisers from the Association of Polish Cities.
We showed the guests what was best. So there was a city tour and a visit, among others in the Cathedral of Sint Trinity and Hajnówka Central – the Cultural Station. There was also a tasting of local Hajnówka products, and a trip to the forest for those willing. The guests also had the opportunity to visit Hajnówka enterprises and learn about their history. It was the “Enklawa Białowieska”, where the workshop part of the visit took place, but also the District Dairy Cooperative in Hajnówka, the Branded Brewery and the cheese factory “Sery z Puszczy Białowieskiej”. City representatives talked about how they develop entrepreneurship at home. Our basis is the strategy of the Hajnówka City brand and the project “Hajnówka ReNewal – Green Transformation” based on it.
Already in the title of the project, the essence of the vision of the city's development is hidden. In short, it is based on nature and culture, not industry as it used to be. Even the place where we are the "Enklawa Białowieska", proves the entrepreneur's sensitivity to the local climate. It used to be a military estate, now it is a modern complex, but referring to the local tradition. Not a single old tree was cut down during its construction. The equipment includes products of Hajnówka companies, and the dishes are cooked using local products.
Why nature and culture? The industry has collapsed, and they now contain the greatest potential of the city, diagnosed during the writing of the project. Nature – due to the unique location of Hajnówka, in the vicinity of the Białowieża Forest. Culture – due to the unique atmosphere of the place, it was created at the meeting point of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, for the local dialect and excellent quality local products, such as the famous marjek, cheese, beer and many others. It is on these pillars that the city’s development and entrepreneurship should be based.
I am built by your concept. You started with the foundations. Often the strategies of municipalities resemble Christmas trees - various ideas are added to them on an ad hoc basis, like Christmas balls. It also happens that we focus on these "hard" elements and build, for example, pavements. However, we are not looking at what makes the city grow. Of course, sidewalks are important because they improve the quality of life of the inhabitants, but they are not where development comes from.
Krzystof Haliniak adds that building a brand strategy is what would be very useful in Nisko. Meanwhile, the authorities are proud of the development of the area around the reservoir – Podwolina Deluge.
The reason for its creation was only practical – the nearby housing estate was flooded by rainwater and it had to be prevented. Today, however, the place has many additional functions. It is the second bustling city center where entrepreneurship develops. It happened thanks to the revitalization project prepared by the city. A 4 km long bicycle path runs around the lagoon, there is also an observation tower, a zip-line, a beach, yachts sail on the water, gastronomy and water equipment rental, there are shelters and a place for a barbecue. It is here that numerous outdoor events take place, such as dances, rallies, trips. They are organized by the owners of the businesses operating here.
The revitalization of the deluge is, of course, not the city’s only activity aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship. There was also an idea to create one computer science education system for all primary schools in the commune on the basis of an operating IT vocational school. This would be followed by the creation of laboratories in institutions and training for teachers, and ultimately a business incubator could be created. The prospect of staying in the hometown and working remotely for the company from anywhere in the world is attractive for many young people.
On the other hand, Jarosław, another city from Podkarpacie, turned to tradition, just like Hajnówka. Although quite distant, because it was centuries ago. The Jarosław Fair, which takes place every August and lasts four days, has become a brand of this city.
We wanted to refer to the merchant traditions of Jarosław that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The city was advantageously located on trade routes and on the San River, merchants from Europe and Asia came here. It belonged to great families, such as the Czartoryski, Zamojski and Lubomirski families, who took care of its development, among others. by organizing fairs. This merchant tradition is evidenced, for example, by the architecture of the market square, which was built on the model of Kraków.
Valuable goods were traded in the center, oxen and other animals on the outskirts. In the 17th century, there was a pause that lasted until modern times. When the employees of the Jarosław town hall wanted to refer to this tradition, they had a real problem. Nobody remembered the old fairs anymore, it was difficult to get exhibitors and original handicrafts.
Now, after several editions of the event, fair in Jarosław is already a well-known brand. This spectacular event is very popular among both exhibitors and visitors. Moreover, it is not the only fair held in this city. The beginning of September is the time of the Benedictine Fair, while in June there is a fair for the youngest – children have the opportunity to sell handicrafts that they have prepared themselves.
The mentioned events are not only building the city’s brand, supporting entrepreneurship, but also building the identity of the inhabitants, from an early age. It is not only cultivating trade traditions, but also integration. Since some of the historic tenement houses have been renovated and fairs have been organized, the market square has come to life. Residents come here to spend time together.
In some ways we are similar to Hajnówka, we have similar problems. For example, we care about the arrival of tourists, but our hotel base is still insufficient. Due to the fact that we have similar problems, we can support each other. Of course, each city will follow its own path, in line with its character and social conditions, but the exchange of experiences is very valuable.
The next meeting within the Experience Exchange Network will be held in October.