Historically known for its silk and tobacco production, the Municipality of Gevgelija, situated on the border of Macedonia with Greece today is known as a service-oriented city with over 70 companies working in various sectors. The health tourism and casinos have transformed the small town which lays next to a mayor European corridor E-75 into a thriving tourist hot-spot. It is led by Mayor Ivan Frangov, an economist with an impressive background in the private sector.
European Times: Which lessons from the private sector have aided you in your position as a Mayor?
Ivan Frangov: The experience from the private sector is very precious especially because of the level of creativity and self-driven leadership which is needed to survive. You have to finish your tasks, and everything depends on the efforts which you have put in. Also, you cannot be specialised in just one thing and not be interested in anything else. You have to learn the entire working process, regardless what your business is. These lessons have been indispensable for my approach in public management.
European Times: What are the most successful business stories in Gevgelija?
Ivan Frangov: As a municipality, we offer between 20-50% reduction in various municipal taxes and fees. We are open to all the business people who have an initiative. Our urbanisation plans will further encourage the investors, especially in the high segment of the hospitality industry, as our five-star hotels and casinos are the best in Macedonia. Hotel Flamingo, hotel Princess and hotel Apollonia have already spread their facility and plan on spreading even more. We have built a lot of road infrastructure; many people have access to it, and I believe much more will make good use of those investments. We have demand from both domestic and foreign investors who are attracted by the business-friendly legislation, low taxes and the long list of government subsidies for foreign direct investments which are second to none in Europe.
European Times: What are the biggest challenges you faced during your tenure as mayor of Gevgelija?
Ivan Frangov: Every day is a challenge of its own, but the greatest one for sure was the refugee crisis in which hundreds of thousands of people came from Greece, through Macedonia, on their way to Western Europe. On the border crossing, we had refugees from all over the world. We managed to organise their transport and to assist them with a humanitarian aid of every kind. After we have closed the border for illegal crossing, the situation is back to normal.
European Times: What would be your personal message?
Ivan Frangov: If you have the intention to invest somewhere the right place for you is Gevgelija. Here you will never find a closed door. Instead, you will find people who will reach out to you, to help you realise your ideas, beyond your expectation.