Edis Dervišagić: The entrepreneurial spirit and diligence of citizens bring success to Gradačac

Edis Dervišagić

When we say Gradačac, somehow the first association is the tower of Husein Captain Gradaščević, or the Dragon of Bosnia. This is also the most important tourist attraction, but not all that Gradačac offers to tourists. In the Old City complex, besides the Tower of Husein Captain Gradaščević, there are other cultural and historical objects such as the Clock Tower, the Regional Collection, tunnels under the city complex, the Husein Captain Gradaščević’s home and the Mosque Husejnija.

With this complex, a new city square with all its contents and protected archaeological findings was built. There are several tombstones in the vicinity of the city, which proves the continuity of life in this area. Significant tourism potential for health tourism is also the spring of medicinal spa water (with a water temperature of 29 degrees Celsius) with modern spa and recreational facilities and hotel accommodation, where health and recreational services are provided.

-In the immediate vicinity of the “Ilidža” spa, there is a sports complex with a city stadium and additional terrains, as well as the recreation park “Stara Banja” (fitness equipment in the open air). In addition to cultural and historical monuments, Gradačac is abundant with natural beauty, while artificial lakes (Vidar and Hazna), along with hunting grounds rich in various types of low and high game, provide excellent conditions for development of tourism, hunting and fishing. For lovers of nature, the excursion sites “Popovača” and “Jasenica” are very convenient, where there is a monument dedicated to all defenders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Within the tourist potential, it is important to mention the locality of the “Armor Train” as a symbol of defense of Gradačac and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as a number of other tourist and natural beauties of Gradačac – said Edis Dervišagić, Mayor of Gradačac Municipality in an interview for Visit B&H Magazine.

Next to Tuzla, Gradačac is the most visited tourist destination in the Tuzla Canton. How many tourists visited Gradačac last year?

– During the year 2018, about 55,000 overnight stays were realized, which represents a trend of growth compared to the previous period. It is expected that establishment of a tourist office in Gradačac, whose establishment is in the final phase, will contribute to even greater promotion and visits to Gradačac.

Do you have plans to improve the tourist offer in the city and are there any larger projects that are being implemented?

-In addition to the city square that was completed last year, organization of city parks and the arrangement of alleys (promenades) i san ongoing activity. In cooperation with the Commission for the Preservation of National Monuments of BiH and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of the FBiH, the preparation of project documentation for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Old Town complex in Gradačac is under way.

Gradačac is part of the Tuzla Canton and in BiH is known for a strong and successful economy. Can you present us a business picture of Gradačac and which companies would you identify as extremely successful?

-Gradačac has a long tradition of business in the manufacturing, construction, trade and services, as well as the growth of entrepreneurial activity through partnership of domestic and foreign investors. Manufacturers of parts located in the municipality of Gradačac (Cimos, Wagner Automotiv) work for the world’s leading automotive industry (Volkswagen, PSA, Audi, BMW). Regional leader in the food processing industry (Lactalis) is also located in Gradačac and has a successful cooperation with domestic milk producers (more than 3,000 subcontractors). It can be said that Gradačac is one of the major production and trading centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a leading municipality in production of stone fruits (plums).

With 151.4 million Euros of exports, i tis the second municipality when it comes to export in the Tuzla Canton (26.25 percent) and the fifth municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What did e Gradačac Municipality do to attract foreign investors?

-Gradačac is the only municipality that owns a BFC certificate in the Tuzla Canton area. The BFC certificate is a certification program for municipalities with a favorable business environment and is an instrument that enables the assessment of the quality of local communities in terms of investment potentials, infrastructures, services and information offered to potential investors and existing economy. Certification program, through which our municipality has passed, aimed to improve cooperation of all stakeholders involved in the process of attracting and implementing investments, as well as promoting standards that influence creation of a favorable business climate.

Are you satisfied with foreign investments in Gradačac and how many there have been in the past period?

-Foreign investments are a very important segment of economy development of each local community, Gradačac as well. Previous foreign investments relate to development of metal, food and textile industries. The largest investors come from developed countries of the European Union (Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany …).

What is the business climate in Gradačac?

– Within the scope of its competence, Municipality seeks to provide as favorable conditions for development of economy and higher employment as possible, in order to create a comfortable living environment in Gradačac and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Significant results have been achieved in these efforts thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of businessmen and the diligence of citizens in Gradačac. Data show that employment in Gradačac is constantly increasing so that the number of employees is higher than before the war, and at the end of last year it amounted to 9,095 employees. Currently, more than 500 business entities, 326 crafts and about 2,000 agricultural holdings are registered in Gradačac.

Are there any incentives for young people in Gradačac when it comes to starting a business?

– Municipality Gradačac devotes special attention to young people, and in this sense provides scholarships. Moreover, important projects are re-training of labor force according to demands of economic entities and in cooperation with foreign investors. In this regard, Gradačac is working on establishing a modern “Training Center” in cooperation with the Government of Turkey and UNDP. In cooperation with the Chamber of Traids and Crafts of Tuzla Canton, the project “Professional Orientation – Practical Training and Upskilling of Youth from the Municipality” is being implemented.

What is the infrastructure in Gradačac?

-We are currently implementing one of the largest projects in the field of water supply worth more than 20 million BAM. This project envisages expansion of the existing sewage network and reconstruction of wastewater treatment plants. About 12 kilometers of local roads have been built or reconstructed. Improving infrastructure in existing industrial zones and building it in new zones is also a goal. All other infrastructure projects that include environmental protection and electricity supply are being implemented. As a part of raising the quality of life and standards of the population, projects for construction and equipping of schools and other social facilities are being implemented.

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