Lithuania makes it to the 16th place in the Global Services Location Index by AT Kearney. That is a massive jump 13 places up in a year. This stellar performance is mainly created by Vilnius and Kaunas that are becoming widely known as attractive Global Business Services (GBS) destinations. But what is the role and the potential of Klaipėda? That is exactly the question that led the city development agency Klaipėda ID to organizing a conference “Discovering GBS sector I Klaipėda“. The conference took place on the 25th of September and brought together a diverse group of stakeholders for a fruitful discussion.
"Discovering GBS sector | Klaipėda" © Donatas Vaičiulis
The conference participants were greeted by the Mayor of Klaipėda, Vytautas Grubliauskas, who reminded everyone about the strategic plan of the city – “Klaipėda 2030” – which includes an aim to grow the Global Business Service industry. “We have big ambitions. Now is the time to bring everyone together and start the implementation process” – said the Mayor.
The Mayor of Klaipėda Vytautas Grubliauskas © Donatas Vaičiulis
The conference that was organized in the Light House coworking gathered together an unusually diverse group of participants. Representatives from the Universities, the municipality, private and public sector, the airports, the Lithuanian Railways, consultants and real estate developers, HR specialists and students as well as leaders of the Global Business Service companies all gathered in one room to share their views and ideas.
„It is very important for us as a city development agency to bring all the stakeholders together for discussions as well as actual collaboration. Klaipėda has been working purposefully towards improving the investment environment in the city and attracting Global Business Services. This industry is important for us as it brings in well-played and desirable jobs and so helps cities attract and retain young talented citizens,“ – says Simas Simanauskas, the director of Klaipėda ID.
Simas Simanauskas (on the right) © Donatas Vaičiulis
The speakers and the guests of the conference discussed the key components needed for the city to attract international GBSs: high quality education institutions and local talents, the city infrastructure, convenient transport links, and a local community.
„There are several very clear challenges that Klaipėda ID recognizes and works to solve together with all the stakeholders: ensuring the quality of IT, foreign languages and finance studies in Klaipėda, increasing the number of modern offices available in the city, guaranteeing strong air and rail connections with Klaipėda as well as attracting and retaining the talents. The challenges are not small, but we are encouraged by the collaboration of all the stakeholders,“ – says Kazys Pupinis, the Klaipeda ID Head of business.
The importance of attraction and retention of talents was recognized by all the speakers. The GBSs seek locations that have strong pools of skilled employees. It is important for businesses to know that they will have the talent needed to scale their operations quickly. When it comes to the supply of modern offices in Klaipėda, it is clear that the city needs a wider choice. It was encouraging to see the real estate developers discussing various new projects together with other stakeholders.
Talking about the size of Klaipėda as a city, the participants were encouraged by Dalia Liesytė, the investment advisor at Invest Lithuania, who noted that the current trend is for the international GBSs to move to smaller and mid-sized cities that are less saturated. „We can learn from similar cities in other countries. Yet, it is very important that Klaipėda clearly defines its unique value proposition. It is only when a city has such a value proposition that it is possible to sell the location to the investors,“ – says D. Liesytė.
Dalia Liesytė (on the left) © Donatas Vaičiulis
In fact, for a while now Klaipėda has a clear and rather unique value proposition. According to K. Pupinis, Klaipėda could become the most attractive city for the maritime, transport and logistics GBSs. The service centre of an international logistics company Greencarrier is a great example of the success of a logistics service centre in Klaipėda. The company representatives, who participated in the conference, confirmed their satisfaction with the choice of location that leads to the continuous growth of operations.
It is important to note here that Klaipėda is also the only city in Lithuania that currently has an incentive model to attract Global Business Services. When talking about the necessity of such incentives, S. Simanauskas commented: “Some service centres are established in foreign countries for the sole purpose of cost-saving. That would not be sustainable for Klaipėda. Thus, here in Klaipėda, we seek to attract GBSs with value-adding services. Yet, we understand that we have strong competitors in Poland and other countries that have extensive incentive packages and so we have to make sure that our value proposition is competitive.”
Light House Coworking © Donatas Vaičiulis
The conference left everyone inspired and ready for new projects and collaborations. Meanwhile, the city development agency Klaipėda ID continues the work in improving the quality of studies in the areas of IT, finance and languages, ensuring the adequate supply of modern office buildings and improving the program of talent attraction. The agency invites all the stakeholders in Klaipėda as well as businesses and organizations from other locations to work together in growing the GBS industry in Klaipėda.