CIPE Worldwide Update: Central and Eastern Europe

For Zemplén, Cross-Border
Barriers Are Falling Fast

Carpathian Border Region Economic Development Association (CBED) (1995-1996)

In the Hungarian town of Sátoraijaúhely, located in the Zemplén region at the intersection of the Hungarian, Ukrainian and Slovakian borders, local leaders one day recognized that the region's isolation, poor infrastructure and small market size limited the potential for economic development. They realized that as long as cross-border business was restricted by a lack of coordination and time-consuming procedures, the three different business communities would remain fractionated and their growth stifled. Thus was their vision of a unified, transnational regional business affiliation born.

Build A Targeted Organization Plan. In 1995, with CIPE support, the Zemplén Regional Enterprise Foundation set about building an organizational plan aimed at: 1) developing a unified regional business community, 2) opening channels of communication, and 3) carrying out a coordinated advocacy campaign identifying specific requirements for implementation. Meanwhile, the Carpathian Border Region Economic Development Association (CBED) was founded to provide the structure for the undertaking through a three-country governing council comprised of business and government leaders. CBED coordinates the group's advocacy efforts from the headquarters in Hungary.

Communicate In Four Languages. To provide communications between the areas CBED publishes the Carpathian Business Review. Two thousand copies are distributed throughout the region in English, Slovakian, Ukrainian, and Hungarian. The review has been endorsed by the Carpathian-Euro Regional Development Foundation, which includes Romania and Poland in addition to the three countries serviced by CBED.

Let A Database Forge Connections. To help forge solid connections between the cross-border communities, CBED has developed a database that matches potential partners. Within just months close to 1,000 businesses have used this service, and some successful deals have already developed. The Lantos garment factory, which manufactures clothing in Hungary for international designers/distributors, was able to establish a new workshop in Kamemec, Slovakia. In another success, Juvis Ltd, a manufacturer of thermos bottles in Kosice, Slovakia, identified a new distributor just meters away in Hungary. The new partnership spawned close to a million orders before the first bottles had even been cleared for import.

Expand The Plan For Growth. In order to have a solid, well researched development plan, CBED commissioned a study to develop a series of independently tailored recommendations for improving the regional infrastructure, establishing industrial parks and enterprise zones, and improving border crossings. By including local and regional officials in the process from the beginning, their support seems assured. Meanwhile, efforts are now underway to promote the plan with national and EU officials.

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