Nyíregyháza is a medium sized city, located in North East Hungary, in the proximity of the Romanian and Ukrainian and Slovakian border, with a population of nearly 120.000. After 2010 the city has gone through significant economic growth, mainly due to high levels of public spending and major investments made by a number of multinational companies. The unemployment rate has decreased gradually to the (pre-pandemic) level of 2,6%. Nyiregyhaza's Living conditions, public infrastructure and services have also improved considerably – offering residents an excellent quality of life.
Despite all these improvements, however, in the middle of the last decade there were a few warning signs that overshadowed this positive picture: Most people were employed in low-income jobs; the SME sector was weak with limited innovation capacity and highly educated young people left the city and never returned. On top of all that, the enterprise support structure was fragmented, and economic development was not seen as a top priority by local decision-makers.
Outcome: We Have A Building!
We had a building, a tried and tested business model, a potential service portfolio – but we had to realise that despite the commitment of the mayor, the two most important ingredients - a team and an approved budget – were still missing. But one thing we learned from the Barnsley example, was that even though there are occasional hiccups, you should press on and never give up. So, we kept on trying to convince the decision-makers; put together a business plan clearly showing the costs and benefits of running a unified economic development organisation in Nyíregyháza; kept telling the Barnsley story and even referred to examples of nearby cities having such an organisation in place.
In December 2019, our proposal was submitted to and discussed at the Council Meeting… and it was unanimously approved. Fast forward to Autumn, 2020: Nyíregyháza has a dedicated economic development organisation, led by David and a team of 5 talented young people. The team started to adapt and tailor to the local circumstances various business support services learned in Barnsley. David is working closely with other business support organisations present in the city, as well as with the University and the Vocational Training Centre to eliminate overlaps and build an efficient, easy-to-access business support ecosystem. Promising discussions are under way with some investors who consider Nyíregyháza as a possible location
Businesses have already moved in the new enterprise hub, and whenever the pandemic situation allows, the building is buzzing with life, hosting various exciting events for local entrepreneurs.