A NEW STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT FOR BALTIC FEZ
The Baltic Free Economic Zone (in Lith. lang. Marijampolė LEZ, LT), which marks its 10th anniversary this year, is entering a new stage of development: it will build manufacturing facilities. New investors planning to produce higher- and medium-value-added products, whose objective is to focus on their manufacturing business, not on building design, real estate development and other construction activities, will be able to rapidly set up operations in these facilities. The first such Baltic FEZ building has already received a building permit and construction works are planned to start early next year.
“We plan to offer investors a turnkey manufacturing building, which we will be able to adapt to the specific needs of the investor,” says Simonas Petrulis, CEO of the Baltic FEZ. “In this way, we will create significantly higher added value for the investor as well as for ourselves, as developers of this territory. In the future, we plan to gradually offer more such buildings, or even larger manufacturing facilities, for rent.”
Higher added value under the 3P Model
One of the first projects to construct a manufacturing building of the highest energy efficiency class (A++), is partially financed by UAB Investicijų ir verslo garantijos (INVEGA) under the financial incentive measure “Construction of manufacturing buildings in free economic zones, industrial parks and other industrial areas”. The project is funded by INVEGA using national budget funds of the Republic of Lithuania.
According to Petrulis, what Baltic FEZ is now doing provides to an investor the highest added value: the opportunity to rent a completed industrial building with fully-installed engineering infrastructure, hard-surface entrances, parking places for cars and bicycles, and charging stations for electric vehicles. In addition, the project foresees installation of smart controllers for energy equipment and of solar power generation capacity, which will generate electricity for use in the building. The Administration of Marijampolė City Municipality, warmly welcoming the development of Baltic FEZ, works together with Baltic FEZ on issues such as coordination of public transport routes according to the needs of the investor, development of public streets and roundabouts, the future need for electricity substations and an increase in their capacity, and issues regarding the coherence of the network of paths for pedestrians and cyclists.
Marijampolė’s vision – 3M development
“Marijampolė is a medium-sized industrial city, where investors of good repute and great ambition are very welcome. Therefore, forward-thinking investors who respect the environment are met here especially warmly, the doors of the municipal government as well as businesses that already operate here are open to them, to help them bring their ideas to life. Both Baltic FEZ and the city government deal with all issues in a very expeditious manner,” says the CEO and owner of Baltic FEZ operating company.
Petrulis emphasises that Marijampolė has a vision for the next several decades. The vision foresees the further development of businesses that have been successfully developed for several decades and continue to grow internationally.
“We call it 3M, based on the Lithuanian words for our main industries: maistas (food), metalas (metal) and mediena (wood). It is these industries that are particularly strong in the region, have expanded to international markets, have put down deep roots here and already have strong traditions. The best-known companies in Marijampolė include Dovista, the leading manufacturer of wooden windows in Europe; the wooden pallet manufacturer Juodeliai, which is now building a second factory; the Spanish car parts manufacturer CIE LT Forge; major food producers, such as Lietuvos cukraus fabrikas, Marijampolės pieno konservai, Mantinga, and ICECO; and the high-tech biotechnology food production company Divaks, which is being set up in the Marijampolė FEZ, to produce insect proteins, fats and other innovative products for the food industry,” says Petrulis.
A genuine “Land Port” is being established
According to the CEO of Baltic FEZ, it is also important to the business community that Marijampolė is the “land port” of Lithuania or perhaps even of the wider region: the Rail Baltica railway line and the Via Baltica highway, connecting Western Europe to Scandinavia, run past the city, the Kaunas and Vilnius airports are quite close, and the Klaipėda seaport is easily accessed. “You won’t enter or leave Lithuania without having some contact with Marijampolė, where the FEZ is being developed. Paraphrasing that saying about Rome, we joke that in Lithuania all roads pass through Marijampolė,” says Petrulis.
It is believed that Marijampolė can become an even more significant city for high-value-added production.
“Particularly in areas where an even more educated and highly-qualified employee or specialist is needed now or will be needed in the future. Even a digitalised, automated and robotised industry will need professionals who are capable of managing and overseeing it all. Our region, located in the triangle formed by Vilnius, Kaunas and Warsaw, is ready for these challenges. And not only because universities and other institutions of higher education are located in nearby Kaunas and Vilnius, but also because one of the largest vocational training centres in Lithuania is located in Marijampolė, meeting the need for trained specialists and professional talent. The number of students enrolled there speaks for itself. In the 2023-2024 academic year, 2,146 students are enrolled at Marijampolė Vocational Education and Training Centre. 97 different vocational training programmes are available to applicants, i.e., applicants can choose from 40 professions. Municipalities and companies in the region have established stipends and scholarships for the best students and teachers. Initial and continuing vocational education and training are available. Training on the basis of partnership has been chosen by 96 students. In 2023, 818 qualified specialists graduated from the Centre. The Centre has two sectoral training facilities, equipped with modern equipment. In 2023, the facilities were updated with the installation of laboratories for practical training in mechatronics for automated systems and metalworking technologies,” says Petrulis, the CEO of Baltic FEZ.
He emphasises that the speed of all processes is very important to businesses today: from taking a decision to starting operations. The Marijampolė municipal government and the Baltic FEZ matrix team have always cooperated and will continue to cooperate in this way: local government expeditiously provides solutions for issues faced by an investor, and Baltic FEZ serves as the management company, walking an investor through the process, from an investor’s first visit to the city, arranging for a hotel stay and lunch at a good restaurant, to thorough consultations on the exceptionally attractive tax environment, to visiting the Marijampolė Vocational Education and Training Centre, to the handing-over of industrial buildings and the maintenance and installation of manufacturing equipment, all in the shortest possible length of time.
“The new generation of local government leaders in Marijampolė is well aware that exceptionally convenient and safe conditions for investment must be created first, and only after that can one expect attention from investors,” concludes Petrulis, CEO of the Baltic FEZ.