Local Economic Development in the Russian Far East
When ICMA began creating partnerships for economic development in the Russian Far East (RFE), the area had a standard of living that lagged behind the rest of the country. The reason was that development of the region's rich natural resources had overshadowed the development of a more diversified economy and the maintenance of many basic services. Cities were also hampered by physical isolation and by a national tradition of centralized planning and development.
From 2005-2007, ICMA implemented the Alaska-Russian Far East Program, facilitating partnerships between five cities in Alaska and eight in Russia. The objective was to provide the RFE communities with the tools they needed to implement successful economic development programs. To help achieve that objective, the program provided access to hands-on technical assistance, training, and focused city-to-city exchanges. Through these activities, RFE community leaders had an opportunity to learn about municipal management and economioc development strategies from local government colleagues with practical, on-the-ground knowledge.
The program and its results are detailed in the report Enhancing Economic Development Opportunities in Communities in the Russian Far East. Results included:
- More than 150 municipal officials were trained in basic principles of effective municipal economic development, community action planning, business development, and creative city marketing.
- A business incubator was established in the city of Bolshoy Kamen to support entrepreneurs.
- In Bikin, a business plan for a brick factory was developed, and the city started to design promotional materials and market their idea to potential investors.
- Faced with a declining fishing industry and a corresponding loss of population, the seaport city of Nevelsk identified tourism as an opportunity for development and began marketing its unique natural, historical, and recreational resources. The efforts resulted in an increased number of visitors.
Economic Development and Diversification in Russian Nuclear Cities
In 2000, the Department of Energy's (DOE) Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI) sponsored the participation of U.S. municipal leaders from cities that host DOE weapons research and production facilities in a meeting with the mayors and municipal leaders from eight of ten Russian "closed nuclear cities." The purposes of the meetings were to s
- Share information regarding economic transition and defense downsizing;
- Discuss job creation strategies
- Reach agreement on future joint initiatives.
DOE funded the ECA and ICMA to help organize the meeting and to provide training on the role of municipal officials in successful and sustainable economic development and job creation. The ultimate goal was to promote economic development progress that would assist the Russian communities to diversify their economy, moving away from reliance on weapons production ,and to provide nuclear weapons workers with jobs.
The Nuclear Cities Initiative program focused on the development of a Road Map for Change, a tool for the Russian nuclear cities that incorporates the U.S. experience, lessons learned as well as suggestions for application in the Russian environment.
Sustaining Partnerships into the Next Century (SPAN)
Under a USAID cooperative agreement administered by IREX, ICMA worked with TICOM group, a Moscow-based municipal development corporation, to impart skills in compiling and executing small cities’ strategic development plans. ICMA provided TICOM with its own publications on the topics of downtown revitalization, strategies on city marketing, and public-private partnerships. The purpose of the program was to explore and test techniques of regional marketing as a method of socio-economic development in the Kirzhach Oblast, Russia. Techniques used included SWOT analysis, survey of comparative advantages, cost benefit analysis, and other tools.
ICMA delivered a seminar in the field to a group of municipal administrators, NGO and community leaders, and businessmen at which concepts of community development and business attraction were introduced and discussed. Based on techniques and methods imparted by ICMA, TICOM group put together a strategic plan for development of Kirzhach region and a handbook for implementation. As a result of this development tool the Oblast administration of Kirzhach reported an increase in direct business investment and an increase in the Oblast tax revenue base.