The Eastern and Prydniprovsky regions of Ukraine are among the most attractive areas for investments due to the strong industrial potential, availability of natural resources, energy resources, high scientific and technical potential, developed transport infrastructure, banking system and accessibility to domestic and international markets.
Attracting investments, proper development of budget funds and effective use of financial instruments at the regional level allow renewing production, modernization and introduction of the latest technologies, provide a high employment level, contribute to solving social problems and transform not only the economic but also the public environment. After all, socio-economic development of the country as an entity depends on the welfare of its regions.
Kharkiv Region: the highest quality of life
After surviving the systemic crisis of the 1990s, the traditionally industrial Kharkiv region managed to change its type of economy in line with European tendencies, as evidenced by changes in the gross regional product structure. The industry remains one of the main employers of the region. However, the guideline for the development of the region’s industrial sector is using modern energy-efficient technologies to increase the production of high value-added products, as well as entering the new global economic and production chains and international markets. At the same time, the Kharkiv region has formed a dynamic market of services and substantially strengthened the service functions of the regional centre. The rapid development has also been noted in complex branches of the economy, including IT, engineering, architectural design and others, that can already be called a new specialisation of the region. Thanks to the constant transformation, the higher education of the region also acquired the international competitiveness factor.
On the national level, the region holds leading positions in the socio-economic potential ratings, in particular, the ones reflecting the parameters of investment attractiveness, macroeconomic environments, higher education and training as well as the introduction of innovations. The Kharkiv region is one of the regions with the highest quality of life in Ukraine – it has the highest level of demographic potential; the leading position in higher education raises the migration attractiveness of the region for talented youth that ultimately determines the high quality of human capital.
The Kharkiv region makes up 6% of Ukraine's population (2 million 775 thousand). The region ranks fourth in Ukraine by this parameter. Kharkiv is the second largest city in the country after Kyiv and the eighth in Eastern Europe. Kharkiv ranked first in the rating of the most comfortable Ukrainian cities by Focus. The European Cities and Regions of the Future 2018/19 rating by the Financial Times has called Kharkiv the most cost-effective city for doing business among the large European cities.
Nowadays, local authorities direct their efforts on the formation of effective territorial communities, the development of social infrastructure and the implementation of decentralisation reform. The aforementioned data can already indicate the success of the region.
Dnipropetrovsk Region: the leader of reforms
The uniqueness of the Dnipropetrovsk region in terms of variety and amount of mineral resources has determined the industrial economic direction of the region. One of the most energy-rich regions in Ukraine owns about 50% of the national reserves of minerals, and its mineral resources level is three times higher than the average national one. The agrarian sector is actively developing at the same rate as the powerful industry of the region: the Dnipropetrovsk region is among the leaders in growing sunflowers; more than 80% of its area is occupied by agricultural production – the second largest in terms of volume in the country. The Dnipropetrovsk region is one of the world centres of rocket and space engineering. Besides, it is one of the leading national exporters – in 2017, the region accounted for 16.3% of Ukraine's export commodity operations. Thus, the positive balance of foreign trade in goods in the Dnipropetrovsk region in the period from January to September 2018 amounted to USD 1890.7 million – the second highest indicator in the whole country. The unrivalled potential of the region is the quantity and quality of engineering and technical staff training for the engineering, aerospace, IT, metallurgical and chemical industries.
However, the development strategy of the region relies not only on the economy but also on the efficient use of energy resources, the creation of territorial cohesion and the strengthening the public authority. The region is the leader in the implementation of the local self-government reform. By the end of 2017, 60 joint territorial communities have been established in the region and have already proven their effectiveness by raising profitability and winning state and international grants. In some communities, the budgets have increased from 50% up to 10 times – in 2018, the budget for development of the territories amounted to UAH 12.4 billion (compared with UAH 1.6 billion in 2014). It allowed the implementation of more than 1000 infrastructure and social projects: building new waterlines, boiler houses, renovating kindergartens, schools and hospitals. Moreover, 500 km of the region's roads are repaired each year.
The Dnipropetrovsk region is the leader in digitizing the most popular administrative services. At the moment, 90% of the most demanded services are available online – it is the highest figure in Ukraine.
Dnipro is the third largest city in Ukraine. The city of rockets, metal, the innovation and traditional economies is one of the leading economic and business centres of the country. Dnipropetrovsk region ranked 12th in the regional Doing Business rating by the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs, having improved its results by 6 positions in comparison with the previous year. It takes an average of 3 days, UAH 270 and one legal procedure to open an enterprise in Dnipro. The region was able to make such a breakthrough mainly due to the active introduction of electronic services. Nowadays, the Dnipropetrovsk region has the highest efficiency rates of implementing ProZorro Public Procurement System. Dnipro ranked 4th in the Transparency International Ukraine rating, showing the highest result among Ukrainian metropolises.
Zaporizhia Region: against all odds
The first democratic republic founded by the Zaporozhian Host was set on the territory of the modern Zaporizhia region. Sociologists believe that the inherited experience of military democracy is decisive for transforming the social outlook and the development vectors not only for the region but for the whole country. Nowadays, Zaporizhia is one of the key centres of Ukraine's economic, technological and intellectual potential. It is an investment-attractive region with high-tech industrial and agricultural complexes, high scientific and educational potential and a wide range of tourist services.
The Zaporizhia region belongs to the highly industrialized and highly urbanized regions of the country with the more than 40% industry in GVA, which affects the pace and direction of economic development. In terms of gross regional product per inhabitant, the Zaporizhia region ranks fourth after Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk and Kyiv regions (data from 2016 results). According to the indicators of the foreign trade balance in January-September 2018, the region ranked third in the country: exports of goods exceeded imports by USD 1402.6 million. Therefore, despite the current challenges, Zaporizhia continues to fulfill its industrial potential and strengthen the well-developed transport infrastructure for the sake of stable economic development.
A distinctive feature of Zaporizhia is the combination of a powerful industrial complex with favourable recreational resources of the Azov Sea and a rich historical heritage, which definitely raises the tourist attractiveness of the region. In general, about 500 health institutions and more than 50 farmsteads of green tourism operate on the Azov coast and in the Dnieper River water area. Resort and recreation areas make up almost 15% of the area. Moreover, there are three historical and cultural reserves, two of them bearing the national status – the Khortytsia National Reserve and the Kamyana Mohyla National Historical and Archaeological Reserve.
Supporting the joint territorial communities remains one of the priorities of the local authorities. It is aimed at promoting the European principles of local democracy. In addition, Zaporizhia is currently engaged in establishing investment passports for the communities. Priority areas, in particular, include financing medicine, education, and culture, improving the ecology, repairing roads and enhancing public transport system, improving water supply, creating new workplaces and developing social infrastructure.
Sumy Region: the industrial potential
Industry and agriculture are the main specializations of the Sumy region. The industrial sector has more than 250 large and medium-sized enterprises related to energy production, engineering, food and chemical industries. The Sumy region showed the highest in the country result of industrial production growth in 2018 – 13.2%. Thanks to the high soil fertility and productivity, the Sumy Region is a steady leader in the crop production among the Ukrainian regions. Sumy is the unrivalled leader in sowing and harvesting buckwheat. However, the region has been a key player on the agrarian map of the country for a long time: Sumy county once ranked the second in terms of the number of plants located on its territory, and Sumy was called the sugar capital of Ukraine. Nowadays, the so-called "sugar" palaces of the leading Ukrainian sugar-growers and philanthropists Tereschenko and Kharitonenko, as well as numerous cultural, historical and religious monuments attract tourists to the region.
The Sumy region is actively implementing the decentralisation reform, so the local authorities direct funds from the state regional development fund to finance investment programs aimed at developing territorial communities, creating industrial and innovative parks, and strengthening social infrastructure.
Poltava Region: the generous land
The strategic objectives of the region's development are not much different from the country-level ones: human capital development, increasing the efficiency of utilizing the economic potential of the region and developing rural areas, which is especially important. After all, the Poltava region is a generous land of fertile chernozem, so it is not surprising that the region is one of the leaders in the agricultural sector; in particular, in terms of grain and sugar beet crop yield. According to the results of the first ten months of 2018, the region ranked first in terms of growth in agricultural production, showing a 22% growth index.
Priorities of the regional authorities include supporting joint territorial communities and their institutional development, promoting productive employment of the population, preserving the environment and improving the quality of life. In 2015-2017, UAH 565 million was directed to the budget for implementing 112 projects in the main directions of the region's development. In particular, UAH 159.5 million was aimed at improving health care and strengthening the health of the region's residents; UAH 114.5 million was aimed at ensuring energy security and forming the energy-efficient public, agricultural and industrial sectors; UAH 32.0 million was set for improving social, road, transport, communal infrastructure of rural areas. In 2017, more than 210 investment projects were implemented in the educational, medical, cultural, housing and communal services sectors with the total value of UAH 351.1 million. The projects were implemented independently by territorial communities and sponsored by the local budget, state subsidies, sponsors and other resources.
The successful reforms and economic growth are changing the region, shaping not only its investment but also tourism attractiveness. The tourist card of the Poltava region is the well-known colourful Sorochyntsi Fair, as well as picturesque villages beloved by Gogol, century-old temples that witnessed the Cossack era, unique Ukrainian ceramics and the famous hospitality.
Author: Natalia Kyrylenko