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Entrepreneurs supported by Nornickel shared their experience in Moscow

A demo day of the GR-Accelerator program was held on 23 January. Representatives of municipalities, resource-supplying organizations, territorial development agencies and businesses were elaborating on a methodology for supporting investment projects based on the "one-stop-shop" principle.
The GR-Accelerator participants from Norilsk, Monchegorsk and the Pechenga District of the Murmansk Region came to the capital to report on their success. Among them were representatives of the government, non-profit organizations, local council members and entrepreneurs. Each of the teams presented the outcomes of their projects which received funding under the World of New Opportunities program.
“The World of New Opportunities” in figures
The program is 10 years old.
602 projects of Norilsk and Dudinka residents have received support under the program.
660 mln rubles were raised by the supported projects.
On the GR-Accelerator program demo day , the teams elaborated on the methodology of one-stop-shop support for investment projects, algorithms for financing infrastructure facilities, and identified and eliminated bottlenecks, as well as shared their experience. The demo day was organized by Nornickel and the Center for Regional Development and Business Technologies of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE).

Between authorities and businesses

The GR-Accelerator program has been running for three years. Its goal is to establish interaction between entrepreneurs and municipal authorities and remove administrative barriers for small and medium-sized enterprises in areas where Nornickel has operations.

The projects were evaluated by an expert committee represented by A.M. Grachev, Vice President for Federal and Regional Programs at Nornickel, and E.A. Shokhina, President of the RUIE Business School. Those invited included representatives of large companies, such as PhosAgro, Rosatom, Russian Railways, and Polyus, who were interested in Nornickel's experience in organizing the GR-Accelerator program.

Nornickel Vice President for Federal and Regional Programs

According to statistics, 90% of small and medium-sized businesses cease to exist during the first year of their operations. One of the main reasons for this is a lack of experience in dealing with government agencies and an inability to prepare permits, design and cost estimate documentation. Start-up businesspersons cannot hire professionals in GR, Government Relations, and we would like to help them establish relations with the authorities.

Alexander Shokhin, Head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE), welcomed the participants of the event. He emphasized the socially responsible role of Nornickel in regional development where it has a presence, especially in the fields of human potential and the environment.

Head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs

The projects currently implemented in the Krasnoyarsk and Murmansk regions with the Company's support are an excellent example of how much can be done at the municipal level even without federal support. I hope that our cooperation with Nornickel will set an example for other companies.

Examples of projects: tourism, medicine and children’s playgrounds

Arctic tourism. Alexander Pestryakov, team leader of Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory, and Chairman of the City Council of Deputies, spoke about the city development and emphasized Arctic tourism.

At first glance it seems impossible to develop this sphere in the Arctic Circle. However, in fact, tourists are eager to get to know the beauty of the harsh but stunning nature. And this goes far beyond the well-known Putorana Plateau.

The region boasts a plethora of Arctic lakes; you can raft down the Yenisei river, go skiing and even visit Nornickel's metallurgical plants on a guided tour – go down into Earth's deep interior and see how Russia's natural resources are extracted. One of the projects, restoration of a skiing recreation center in the Kayerkan district, is an important driver for restoring the natural beauty and boosting the tourist potential of the North.

There are about 300 tourism entrepreneurs working in Norilsk now. They organize tours and excursions. To support their initiative, the Four Winds Center was created, which received RUB 5 million in funding from Nornickel. The money was used to renovate the premises, and now the center acts as a tour aggregator and souvenir manufacturer.

Dialog Plus, the first family clinic, opened in Norilsk thanks to the GR-Accelerator project. The clinic expanded its area with funding from Nornickel worth RUB 100 million. There are plans to arrange a health resort for treatment. Why should Norilsk residents travel to the mainland to regain health when they can do it at home? Tatyana Drugova, General Director of Dialogue Plus, is confident that it is quite possible to set up such assistance for people. All it needs is construction of a 2,000 m2 building, supplying it with appropriate equipment, and inviting specialists who can work on a rotational basis. The opportunity to work in the North and see the regions sites would be a bonus for many medical specialists.

Covering for children's and sports grounds. SeverMetallStroy also thought about making life in Norilsk more comfortable. Director, Valeria Tereshkova, said that with the support from Nornickel, the company opened a production facility to process tires into rubber granules for covering children's and sports grounds. This is a vital issue for the city because most construction materials are delivered to Norilsk from the mainland. By the time they are delivered, the summer in the Arctic will be over, so it will be impossible to improve infrastructure. If the required raw materials were produced locally, it would speed things up.
Norilsk opened its own production facility to process tires into rubber granules for covering children's and sports grounds. This is important because delivery from the mainland takes a long time.
Alexander Pestryakov stressed Norilsk Nickel's tremendous contribution into environmental projects, the upgrade of production facilities, and modification of energy networks. In 2023, the company invested RUB 110 million into projects, and created 80 jobs.

Relations between small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and the authorities can always be improved. There are over 5.5 thousand businesspersons in Norilsk. The administration can only designate 2-3 experts to solve their problems. No wonder the mechanism is failing to get traction. Alexander Pestryakov expressed his gratitude to Nornickel and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs for the GR-Accelerator program which helps to solve this problem.

Cities for life: Nickel, Zapolyarny, Monchegorsk

The teams from Monchegorsk and Pechenga District were welcomed by Andrei Chibis, Governor of the Murmansk Region. He spoke about the administration's endeavors to improve the investment climate for small and medium-sized businesses. Since 2020, taxes for such entrepreneurs have been reduced six times. Arctic zone residents who invest more than RUB 1 million in their business only have pay 3% of social contributions instead of 30% of the minimum wage.

Governor of the Murmansk Region

It is fundamentally important to create a comfortable environment for the development of small and medium-sized businesses. - This improves the life quality of local residents and changes the surrounding world for the better. I would like to express my gratitude to my colleagues from Nornickel: we are implementing a large number of investment projects together. We believe we are making lives better for all people of the North.

RUB 10 billion
is the amount of the agreement on the comfortable environment development between Nornickel and the Murmansk Region Government in 2023. The company will invest RUR 6 bln, and RUR 4 bln will be allocated from the regional budget.
The Pechenga team paid great attention to projects aimed at making the district more attractive to investors. Svetlana Orlova, a representative of the Administration, and Valentina Tindeeva, a deputy of the Volga Federal District, spoke to the Demo Day participants. They said that the total investment in the projects amounted to RUB 278 mln and 47 jobs were created. The Administration has switched to a single window mode.
It takes 3 days instead of 30 days
for entrepreneurs in the Pechenga District to get permission for connecting engineering networks and installing non-stationary objects.

Three Polar Region Projects

The renovation of Metallurgov Square in the settlement of Nickel enabled us to host the Gastro Industry Fest, a festival of gastronomic specialties and Northern attractions. The event was organized by ANO Second School Center with Nornickel’s support. More than 10 thousand spectators from 70 cities across Russia attended the Festival. Now, a cafe with polar cuisine, a hotel and bath complex, a modular skating rink and a souvenir shop are planned to open on the square. The project will improve the quality of life for local residents and attract tourists.

The Park of New Opportunities opened in Zapolyarny in 2020. It has an area of 17,000 sq. meters and is popular with citizens of all ages in summer and winter. There are well-lit areas for children and adults to relax, play and do sports, hiking, Nordic walking, and jogging. The park hosts municipal and federal events, as well as and gastro tours organized by local businesses.
The houses in Zapolyarny were painted as part of the Park of New Opportunities Project.
A Road Transport Complex was also established in Zapolyarny to service special-purpose machinery and commercial vehicles. It is a significant project because the District lacked places to do repairs or maintenance on heavy-duty vehicles.

Typical Challenges

The problems faced by small and medium-sized businesses in the Pechenga District are typical for the entire Polar Region. This includes a lack of cheap long money and available premises, expensive logistics and a severe shortage of staff.

The Pechenga team believes that empty municipal housing in Nickel could be allocated to attract people from other regions for business development. The participants also suggested expanding the program of the Pechenga District Development Agency, creating a small and medium-sized business support center in the territory, organizing field meetings and making the accelerator programs available all year round.

Alexander Grachev asked the team to present their proposals, but emphasized that Nornickel is against industrial paternalism as a matter of principle: “We are aware that Nornickel's presence in the region has a relaxing effect. We are ready to provide fishing rods, but you have to catch the fish by yourself!”

In Monchegorsk, the total investment in projects amounted to RUB 78 mln. The Team presented the results for the renovation of the city's Leningradskaya Embankment, a 2022 project. There are tourist and entertainment facilities, a hockey court, and a parking lot. The embankment is decorated with illuminations on New Year's holidays, and a contract for year-round cleaning has been signed. Leningradskaya Embankment has been totally rearranged and has become a focal point for city residents and families with children.

The Monchegorsk team has a new project aimed at establishing a communal zone in Moncha city area. This is the very center of the city, where there will be soccer, basketball and hockey fields, a modular sports complex with fitness equipment. Entrepreneur Roman Starikov plans to place a modular cafe in Moncha, and Natalia Kurlyandchik is going to set up a children's entertainment zone with trampolines, life-size puppets, and sale of ice cream and other treats. Natalia thanked the Monchegorsk Administration for their assistance in getting permission to open non-stationary catering outlets.

Deputy Director of Kola Metallurgical Company

All participants presented well-designed projects rather than vague business ideas. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the entrepreneurs, who kept on showing initiative in the difficult conditions of the last few years and did not lose heart. Their unflagging entrepreneurial spirit lets us hope that all projects will be implemented and that the territories where we have presence will keep on developing.

Photos by Nornickel
February, 2024
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