Vilnius’s New Mayoral Strategy: A breath of fresh air for Northern Europe’s hottest new business hub
Vilnius is on the rise. This year alone the city has already secured 3rd place, after Zurich and Edinburgh, in the mid-sized European Cities category of the Financial Times fDI European Cities of the Future index. And with foreign investment on the increase – last year saw the country’s FDI agency Invest Lithuania posting its best results ever – the city is set to see its fortunes prosper even further.
At the helm of this surge is the city’s new Mayor, Remigijus Šimašius. With his experienced team he is developing and implementing a raft of new strategies intended to make the capital an even more alluring option for businesses and citizens alike.
Starting with business, the new administration has recognized the huge untapped potential in developing the capital as a strategic hub for tech business that bridges talent and opportunities from both the Eastern and Western market. With the Mayor’s full backing, this year will see the launch of Vilnius Tech Park, a private venture designed to create a Silicon Valley for the region.
Alongside the presence of Shared Services Centers for Fortune 500 companies such as Western Union, AIG, Nasdaq, and, of course, Barclays, this emphasis on nurturing new tech business will enable the capital to position itself as one of Europe’s go to destinations for modern, forward thinking business.
And the key to sustaining such growth lays in connectivity, something the administration is keenly aware of. To this end it is presently collaborating closely with the city’s airport to expand on the routes and operators currently available. Last September saw a record breaking 3.3 million passing through Vilnius airport, and this year has already seen the administration setting a priority to attract new business carrier routes to London Gatwick and Heathrow.
The focus of the administration, however, is not merely on business. The Mayor is strongly committed to promoting an agenda of transparency and openness; he sees this as a key way in which the city can be both given back to its citizens and guaranteed a prosperous future. To achieve this, a number of initiatives and measures have been put in place. Starting with governance and accountability, following OECD recommendations the boards of Municipal companies are currently being reconfigured to include independent members from private companies. The bar has been set high, with a target of 66% of all companies meeting the standard by mid-2016, and progress has been swift: the city is already two thirds of the way to achieving its aims.
While to make the city more accountable to its 660,000 daily users, data is being migrated online, enabling them to monitor the performance of many of the cities key services such as transport, budgets, kindergartens and other.
Making the city more cost effective and fiscally responsible is also a key priority. Within the last year the administration has implemented a number of initiatives designed to limit unnecessary expenditure and reduce city debt. And in terms of boosting revenue, new strategies are being introduced to improve citizen registration and manage real estate.
Under the Mayor’s guidance a number of major developmental projects have been announced. With the aim of stimulating healthier lifestyles and greener transportation, projects to improve the city’s existing bicycle infrastructure and redevelop the area around the city’s River have been tabled.
The largest project, and the undoubtedly the most attractive to foreign investors, is the Multifunctional Center that is to be built with the aid of PPP investment on the site of the National Sports Stadium. This project will provide foreign construction specialists with a fantastic opportunity to get involved in what is destined to be one of the city’s keynote structures.
Truly, Vilnius has set itself on a new path of growth and prosperity.
As Remigijus Šimašius himself asserts:
„Our city team has a determination to create a city that is open and transparent; owned and governed by the people that live in it. With this in mind Vilnius is set to become a truly cosmopolitan home for people with ambition, inspiration and drive.”