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ARKHANGELSK, July 7. /TASS/. Authorities of the Arkhangelsk region filed an application to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development for organization of an advance social and economic development territory (advance-development territory, ADT) in its mono-industrial city Onega. Experts told TASS thus the city will attract more tourists, its economy will be diversified, and new big social projects will be implemented there.
Onega is the part of Pomorye, which is situated in the Russian Arctic zone.
"In the application for the ADT, we specified the mono-industrial city's directions for development, chose areas for potential investors, organized an open competition of projects and formed pools in Tourism, Drinking Water Production, Collection and Processing of Wild Plants," the Arkhangelsk region's Minister of Economic Development Semen Vuimenkov told TASS. "We shall organize a pilot territory in Onega, and further on we shall use the experience throughout the region."
Among the announced projects in Onega would be a sport-tourist complex, a project on development of the Onega seaport, and putting operational the pellet plant. "In 2015, in Onega we organized a new fuel pellet factory, which uses lignin (a waste from wood processing). This project is the first stem towards diversification of the city's economy - this plant is not related to the basic industry," the region's economic development authority told TASS. "The primary result would be new 204 jobs, as well as new payments to budgets of all levels."
A biathlon complex will be situated on Onega's shore of the White Sea. Snow here covers the ground in mid-October already and remains to early May. The project's objective is to organize in the North-West a training base for high-class athletes, as well as for competitions of various levels, including international tournaments. Potential investors have applied for participation in the ADT with their projects of bottled water production and processing of wild plants.
Businessman Andrei Dyachkov, whose project Center for Family Water Entertainment is in the region's application, says his project is more social than commercial. Onega does not have a swimming pool, and the businessman wants to make a water park there. "Our system of water preparation was drafted in Anapa (city on Black Sea), they have offered an individual approach," he said, adding many visitors come to the city for New Year "from Kazan, Yaroslavl, Ryazan, Moscow, Petersburg, and of course from (neighboring) Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk." But, he continued, the new center would be more focused on the locals, as "in Onega swimming in the sea is in July and August."
The businessman said he is all for the advance-development territory, as "if there are new jobs, then the area has more taxes, and life would be more interesting," he said. "Something else will also appear, and besides there are companies, which may deal with the port, for example."
The region's minister said the advance-development territory would favor development not only of one municipal unit, but of all the neighboring territories. For example, bigger investment attraction of the city, implementation of new projects there favor better infrastructures, will offer solutions develop transport in order to make it easy to get to Onega.
Onega is situation in a very scenic place, on the shore of the White Sea, where not only locals enjoy spending time. "Onega has a big potential in development of tourism: the unique nature, the long sea shores, the virgin forests, and the Kiy Island - a true sacred treasure, many monuments of architecture and cultural heritage, great opportunities for active and educational tourism," speaker of the Arkhangelsk region's legislation Viktor Novozhilov told TASS, adding "Onega is a true tourist pearl, which the world should see." Onega's economy is based on wood processing: woodcutting, production of wooden construction materials, use of bark and wood-production waste to fuel local heating plants.
"For the recent 20 years, the city's economy has based on three wood processing plants," head of the Onega region, Pavel Smagin, told TASS. "Most people are working there, and we receive their taxes, and depend on the market fluctuations, on warm or cold winters, whether wood is transported or not." Besides the wood processing sector, the city develops food industry, house maintenance services, tourism and sports. In case the city becomes an advance-development territory, it will ease the problem of unemployment and migration, as the migration over recent five years has cut the labor-age population by 22%," the regional economic development ministry said.
Onega nowadays is a territory of unused investment potential in tourism, production of alternative energy resources, fishing, production and processing of bio resources, experts say. "We realistically do not have anything but the forests, but we have very beautiful nature; we have an old outdated base - something to begin from. We are ready to work with anything related to tourism and to wild plants," the region's head said.
The local legislation's speaker said Onega is a city with rich history and great potential. "Like many other cities in the Arkhangelsk region, Onega has endured the tough time of post-perestroika, the complicated 90s, when major enterprises were closed down, people lost jobs and had to leave the region," he said. "Now, the task we have is to give a new life to this region, to offer an impetus for its development; all this requires major investments, but anyway the effect would be much higher than investments, thus I am adamant - organization of an advance-development territory in Onega is an exclusively correct choice."