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Halfway Home: The State of the City

Thursday, 27/11/2008
Halfway Home: The State of the City

Marking the mid-point of his four-year term as president of the City Council, Mayor Piotr Krzystek last month delivered a progress report to the city council what his administration had accomplished and what is planned for the remainder his current stint as president. 
The review encompassed the strategic development initiatives the administration has sought to achieve during Krystek’s first term. These include making the city streets safer and cleaner, improving educational services, improvements in transportation, boosting tourism and creating platforms for attracting new business and investment.
During his presentation, Krzystek stressed the need for constant and continued improvement as a means of strengthening the city’s brand, which he said will enable continued economic growth and balanced development as keys to future success. Among the initiatives highlighted in the report and their subsequent further development:
The Friendly Harbor Program (Szczecin Przyjazny Port) – a set of initiatives designed to build on the success of the Tall Ships festival held in the city in the summer of 2007 and to attract maritime visitors through the offer of low-cost berths and other incentives. The program is part of an overall plan of development to utilize the city’s geographic location as a central focus of efforts to increase tourism, which include the creation of new marina space as part of a planned water park. In addition, the expansion of city-funded maritime education programs is intended to ensure the city’s reputation as a source of manpower for the global shipping industry.  
The Szczecin Pomeranian Technology Park (Pomorski Park Technologii) – an industrial zone aimed at attracting high-tech companies to the area. As part of this initiative, which has seen a host of high-tech companies migrate to the region, the city is committed to jointly establishing a Science and Technological Park (Park Naukowo Technologiczny), which will boost growth of new businesses through the creation of centers for computer science and innovation, as well as a business incubator platform. The drive intends to leverage the educational offerings in the city, an increasing number of which are focused on technology, research and development. 
The improvement of transportation routes in and around the city -- a high-speed tramline and a Western bypass, both of which are currently underway, and will improve the quality of life for residents and the attractiveness of the city for businesses and continued industrial development. The city realized the creation of a new line to accommodate the fast trams and will purchase new trams and buses in the year ahead. Meanwhile, a feasibility study for the Western bypass has been executed. And the city has seen a growth in air services at the Goleniow regional airport, with flights now available to Oslo, London and Bristol.
Krzystek added that It is not only technological potential that attract investors to the city but high level of local education system as well. He pointed to an investment by TietoEnator, a Finnish-Swedish digital services company, which was aided by a government grant of PLN5.6 million, as an example of the types of efforts the city is making in the creation a new jobs. 
Looking ahead, the president said that there will be more investments in the arts, in the area of public safety, in the ongoing modernization of the Jasne Blonia city park, and for the introduction and realization of ecological education. Atop the agenda are projects to build a new philharmonic hall, a new puppet theatre and new museum and gallery spaces.
Krzystek said that while much has been accomplished in the first half of his first term as president, the city faces many challenges. He cited the beautification that needs to take place to improve the esthetic quality of the city, the investment needed to create a water park as the lynchpin of tourist industry growth, and improvements to the educational system that will produce the human capital so vital to attracting investment capital, especially in the area of high technology. 
He added that despite the ongoing global economic crisis, the city is well-positioned to be competitive on both the national and global stages. He added that city residents and visitors alike would continue to see rising standards of both living and services in Szczecin and that his administration would redouble its efforts to meet its stated goals.

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