Investment minister promotes Macedonia
By Tim Karan
Published: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
While many people probably can't point to it on a map, the tiny Eastern European Republic of Macedonia could provide big advantages to small businesses, according to speakers at an event held Friday afternoon in West Homestead.
About 30 entrepreneurs and local officials including Homestead Mayor Betty Esper and former state legislator and Allegheny County commissioner Mike Dawida were in attendance at the Bulgarian Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center along W. Eighth Avenue for a presentation by Jerry Naumoff, Macedonia's recently appointed minister of foreign investment.
“For a young country that had a very rough start 20 years ago, the business opportunity in Macedonia is pretty amazing,” Naumoff said.
Once part of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia declared independence in 1991 and joined the U.N. in 1993. Bordered by Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania, it's just under 10,000 square miles with a population of about 2 million.
Naumoff, a former business owner in Chicago, said he understands the difficulties facing American businesses.
“I know exactly what type of pressures you're facing,” he said. “I experienced in my business drastic increases in the cost of doing business due to escalating taxes and never-ending regulations. These last several years, it's become much more difficult for businesses to make a profit.”
That's where he believes Macedonia can help. Still rebuilding after the fall of Yugoslavia, the country is littered with upwards of 400 empty factories that the country would be happy to fill with American businesses. Boasting the lowest taxes, wages and operating costs in Europe, along with an eager and well-educated workforce, he said Macedonia recently was ranked No. 5 on CNN's list of the 10 best places to start a business.
“During the first six months of this year, we've already had more foreign investors than all of last year,” said Naumoff, noting that many take advantage of the country's free trade economic zones where there are no personal taxes. “We also provide up to almost $700,000 toward the construction of a building, we have 0 percent retained earnings and free trade agreements with Europe, Turkey and the Ukraine — that's about 650 million people.”
Naumoff stressed that European expansion isn't only for multi-million dollar corporations.
“There are lots of opportunities for small to mid-sized companies to expand in Europe,” he said. “They can use Macedonia as a launching pad.”
Developer Walt Viola, organizer of Friday's event, said anyone with a business could take advantage of overseas expansion.
“Everything you do is exportable,” he said. “It's a matter of you wanting to do it.”
He said, although many Americans have their roots in Europe, the younger generations might view it as a world away.
“We need to turn to our kids and say, ‘Look, our great-grandparents came over (from Europe),'” Viola said. “That doesn't mean we also can't look back to do something on the other side of the ocean.”
At the conclusion of the presentation, Esper said that although she doesn't know if many local businesses would be willing to make such a big leap, Macedonia does seem like an attractive option.
“If I were a businessperson and had that type of money to set up and get a quality workforce like that, it all sounds very good,” Esper said.
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McKeesport aerobic fundraiser for cystic fibrosis challenges attendees
- 40 McKeesport kids to go to summer camp for free
- Gubernatorial candidate Wolf touches base with McKeesport voters
- Elizabeth businesses expand despite traffic woes, road issues
- Duquesne man dies in crash
- McKeesport history center highlights women’s roles in Civil War
- McKeesport council OKs memorial ordinance
- Children present ‘Cinderella’ at Elizabeth theater
- Restaurant owner says he’s buying McKeesport’s Lemon Tree building
- Hearing postponed in Versailles sex assault
- McKeesport mayor answers critics of emergency timing