It is worth paying attention to small towns

It is worth paying attention to small towns

Size does not matter; Nová Paka, a Czech town in Hradec Králové Region, has proven it many times. The small town is a contender for the national City for Business Award in 2022.

The Central and Eastern European region is full of surprises, curiosities, and unusual success stories. Each country has its own charm and uniqueness, and Czechia has stories to tell that can be inspiring to everyone, from Chukotka to Tenerife. In this series of articles, we show towns and cities from the region which have inspirational success stories but still did not get enough media attention.

In the northern part of Czechia, in East Bohemia, there is a town called Nová Paka, situated in the foothills of the Giant Mountains. The first written mention of the town dates to 1357, about the installation of a new vicar to one of the churches, but this is not why Nová Paka is interesting to us. Nová Paka is home to the brewery where BrouCzech beers are made. One of their most populous beers, according to BeerAdvocate, is Granát, the 26,091st best-rated beer in the world. Other similar sites show the same results, so we can conclude that the town’s brewery is mediocre at best.

Then what is so interesting about a small Czech town with an almost unchanged population since 1890?

This town won the City for Business (Město pro byznys) Award in 2021, not for the first time. The competition has been organized for 14 years by Ekonom, a weekly economic magazine, and in 2011 the winner was Nová Paka. The announcement ceremony of the results was held in Prague on 29 November that year. In 2021 the dark horse won again, just as 10 years ago. Nová Paka is the only town with a population of 9000 that could make it to the top of the ranking. Let us look at how such a small town could be the winner in 2011.

Nová Paka’s amazing location highly contributed to its top ranking. The judges, among other things, also took the stability of the region, the number of patients registered at a GP, and the low crime rate into account. The town also scored high on indicators related to labor market competition, business environment, the age of the unemployed, and the number of businesses.

When making such comparisons, different data can be evaluated from different perspectives; for example, lower average wages are seen as positive by entrepreneurs and negative by citizens. In this competition, employees’ and average citizens’ perspectives were overshadowed.

A one-time victory did not wholly satisfy Nová Paka; the town wanted to further improve its performance on the various assessment points, especially on access to public services, where it ranked only 6th that year. There was room for improvement regarding the online support of entrepreneurs, which is a crucial aspect, meaning the creation of a section on the town’s website with, among other things, the necessary forms for entrepreneurs and the directory of local businesses.

A képhez tartozó alt jellemző üres; novapaka.png a fájlnév
Roland Molnár | Hype&Hyper

Back to the present

This year, in the regional round, Nová Paka ranked first, thanks to its good management and quality of the business environment. The municipality, with a population of 9000, is home to several development projects and invests a lot in such programs. David Pavlát, a spokesman for the competition, said that in terms of subsidies per income, Nová Paka is in the top 10 nationally. The town keeps the property tax low, providing residents with a safe environment they can hardly get anywhere else in Czechia. Nová Paka has a thriving business community with many larger firms.  The town has the highest figure regarding companies with more than 250 employees per all businesses in East Bohemia. The long-term unemployment rate is low, and the number of self-employed is well above the Czech average.

Josef Cogan, Mayor of Nová Paka, said that their main goal is to sustain and further improve the town’s high quality of life, for which a business-friendly environment is indispensable. He highlighted that a fair attitude and good relations between the municipality and the businesses are essential to Nová Paka’s success.

It has been delivered what was promised in 2011. The town has a high-quality entrepreneur-friendly website for the high number of businesses that operate in Nová Paka. The municipality also invests greatly in public transport, culture, housing, and sports. According to the competition organizers, more office hours are available for business owners and administrators to get all necessary bureaucratic things done than in most other regional municipalities.

What is the point of this assessment?

The aim of the research is to create a forum for discussion on the possibility of municipal support for small and medium-sized enterprises. The organizers and their research partners deem it evident that the primary task of municipalities is to ensure the best possible living conditions for all residents. Therefore, they want to share the best ideas and experiences with the public to inspire other municipalities.

Each year, they publish the ranking of Czech towns and cities with the greatest business potential for municipal employees, entrepreneurs, and the public. Their reports summarize all the important information and data that can drive the debates on the development of the Czech business environment.

The studies automatically include the 205 administrative districts of municipalities with extended competence and Prague’s 22 municipal districts. The research examines all aspects of the cities and towns with strategic importance for entrepreneurs and companies.

So, does Nová Paka have a chance to win at the national level this year?

The national results will probably be announced in September, but not much concrete information is available yet. Nonetheless, one thing is for sure: we can learn a lot from Nová Paka, which regularly ranks higher than larger towns and cities in terms of quality of life and business opportunities. And in today’s globalized world, local success can be a powerful force for building a better world.

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