About Sisak-Moslavina County
Sisak-moslavina County with the surface of 4.467,55 km2 is one of the largest counties in the Republic of Croatia. It takes up 7,89% of the Croatian territory. It borders with five other counties: Karlovac county, Zagreb county, Bjelovar-bilogora county, Pozega-slavonija county and Brod-posavina county and with the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are 456 settlements in the SMC area with the average of 406 inhabitants. These settlements are structured into 19 units of local selfgovernment. The county has 6 towns (Glina, Hrvatska Kostajnica, Kutina, Novska, Sisak and Petrinja) and 13 municipalities (Donji Kukuruzari, Dvor, Gvozd, Hrvatska Dubica, Jasenovac, Lekenik, Lipovljani, Majur, Martinska Ves, Popovaca, Sunja, Topusko and Velika Ludina).
The County has a population of 185,387 (4,18% of state population) which makes it number ten out of twenty Croatian Counties together with the City of Zagreb. The population density in SMC is 41.5 residents per km2 and it is less than the state average which is 78,5 residents per km2.
Women represent 51% of the population and men represent 48,08% of the population.
The average of working population in the county (aged 20-64) is 59,08% and it is similar to the state average (60,2%). Most of the working population is located in the central part of the county around bigger cities such as Sisak, Kutina and Petrinja where their quantity surpasses the county’s average. These towns have s population density higher than the county’s average(41,5%) which makes them the three leading towns in the county. With the majority of the population leaving, the county has a negative population migration impact. From the total number of the inhabitants 16% is aged from 0 to 14, than 32% is aged from 15 to 39 and 33% is aged from 40 to 64. The rest of the population is over 65 years of age.
County is the Regional Government Unit and its area represents natural, historical, traffic, economic, social and self-governing unit, and it is constituted in order to perform activities of regional interest.
The County performs many activities of regional character especially the following:
• spatial and urban planning
• economic development
• traffic and traffic infrastructure
• maintenance of public roads
• planning and developing the network of educational, health, social and cultural institutions
• issuing construction and location permits and other acts relating to construction and implementation of the related activities of spatial planning for the areas of the county which do not fall under the big town
• other activities in line with special laws
Sisak-Moslavina County is a part of administrative – territorial constitution of the Republic of Croatia and has its headquarters in Sisak. As an administrative unit, Sisak-Moslavina County was constituted in 1993. Since its constitution it had four Assembly compositions working for the benefit of the County.
The economic possibilities of the county are diverse: the water potential, oil, underground gas, cultivatable land, forests, vineyards and orchards, thermal springs, navigable rivers, natural preserves and protected natural resources, as well as the richness of flora and fauna. The area is very important in the transport system of Croatia due to its roads, rail-roads and river transport.
An important part of the economy is also vine¬growing, which came to this region with the Romans, together with agriculture and cattle-breeding.The water capacity of the county is obvious in the large number of naturally running waters and retentions, as well as underground waters.
The patterns of economic development in Sisak-Moslavina County have been in many respects established as a result of the inheritance of decisions made during the socialist planned economy era. Economic activities were superimposed upon the region that did not reflect the inherent attributes and assets of the region, perhaps with the exception of the comparative strategic transport advantage provided by the River Sava.
In parallel, with the inheritance of this ‘old’ industrial economy Sisak-Moslavina County, like much of continental Croatia, suffered major social and economic upheaval and damage as a result of the homeland conflict.
Shift from 'old' to 'new' industrial structure
The County recognises that the heavy industry-based ‘old economy’ set within the geo-politics of a planned economy and a Yugoslavian market of 25 million is not the future. What has survived and whose core business are realistically sustainable within the new economic order, are and will continue to be supported.
As, if not more significantly, efforts are been focused on identifying sector clusters around these core industrial production and processing activities that can create and secure market access for small firms and family crafts. New spin-off businesses of a small and medium scale, new partnerships structured around FDI and innovatory entrepreneurial start-ups are seen as the breeding ground for the creation of the new economy.
Particular emphasis is been placed on encouraging economic activities that secure increase value added form processing activities that, in turn, limits economic leakages out of the County.
The County has embarked on an ambitious Business Zone development programme to help create the conditions where SME’s can establish themselves and provide these services to the restructured traditional manufacturing and processing industries. Additionally a new focus will be given to these Business Zones to act as incubators aimed at stimulating a new entrepreneurial spirit to diversify the economy into territories such as the health and wellbeing, media, design and knowledge economy sectors.
The County’s policy orientation understands that effective development of the service sector depends upon building human capital. Therefore education is acknowledged as the bedrock of the tertiary sector. In the ‘soft sector’ employment, people use time to deploy knowledge assets, collaboration assets, and process engagement to create productivity, performance improvement and sustainability. Both the agricultural and wood processing sectors are prime candidates to benefit from this new perspective. Also the tourism, recreational and health asset potentials of the County have the cross-cutting potential to integrate with niche aspects of these traditional sectors and drive a new cooperative and collaborative ways of doing business that will spawn dynamic and vital SMEs.
The County has an officially declared policy that Agriculture (including Wood Processing), Tourism and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) are to be priority sectors for future economic development.
The proportion of arable land to total surface area in SMC is the second greatest in Croatia. Since much of this land has not been in use for many years it is ideal for organic food production. As such, the quality and quantity of agricultural resources provide the basic pre-conditions for the agro-economy to become one of main development pillars of the county.
Currently, there is over 236,000 ha of land classified as agricultural, out of which approximately 78% arable. It is estimated that of this only just over 34% (just over 63,000 ha) of arable is in productive use by mainly families (88%) and the remainder accounted for by agro-businesses (firms).
Family farms are highly fragmented being composed of nearly 90,000 parcels with an average of 3 parcels per household and an average aggregate area per household farm of just over 2.0 ha.
Consolidation of family farms and the introduction of cooperative working arrangements will be key factors in overcoming problems of fragmented ownership and production. Recent evidence indicates that the process of forming market orientated agricultural cooperatives has begun. This new market orientation bodes well for the development of the sector but the process of cooperative formation, production and market penetration will take time and concerted efforts will be required to achieve the desired outcomes.
With its natural beauties (Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, Topusko spa) SMC has a very significant and un-tapped potential that was never entertained during the socialist planned-economy era. With the demise of this industrial-based identity the County is now on the threshold of re-inventing itself.
SMC will subsidize setup of small family type of accommodation in rural areas, supporting sustainable, rural tourism that will use the potentials of above mentioned assets. The responses to initial subsidised support initiatives are optimistic and have already attracted 81 small family businesses in the last year. Future activities will support creation of a cross-border tourist itinerary based on river Una (with partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina), and water sports, nature sightseeing, food and drinks fairs are planned.
These actions listed above that are already in progress are only the top of the iceberg. A comprehensive sector strategy is in the final stages of preparation. Its early ambitions are to realise a series of modest but doable actions that will lay the foundation for it to become a leading economic sector of the County for the next generation.
Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs)
SMEs will be one of the key instruments or ‘critical factors of success’ for SMC to achieve its ambitious transformation form the ‘old’ to the ‘new’ economy. In many respects the perspective for the priority sectors of agriculture and tourism, are intricately bound into SMEs. The structure of the tourism sector is recognised as being, in the main, composed of SMEs. Agriculture, though overly fragmented at present, is likely to re-emerge as a successful sector composed of medium-scale more intensive faming concerns as well as many small, niche-market, high value added producers. Similarly, the wood processing industries are likely to be transformed from bulk exporters of lumber, to manufacturers of pre-fabricated holiday homes, flat-pack furniture and lower volume, high value small and medium scale producers.
A major Central Government initiative for the support of SMEs is the adoption of a policy to develop Business Zones throughout Croatia. In 2005 Sisak-Moslavina County adopted a Plan for the development of its BZs. This Plan features 24 potential business zones to be developed by 2010 and in the meantime Local Governments have applied for an additional five business zones to be included in this plan.
According to the Plan "Business zones" are classified as areas identified in Spatial Plans, and other statutory documents, for the purpose of facilitating the development of economic activities, and which are provided with all necessary roads and utility infrastructure.