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Spatial Development. Small Regions: From Survival Strategy to Development Strategy
26 May 2018
10:00—11:15
KEY CONCLUSIONS
Small towns show negative growth

In Russia, about 1,000 towns, which we refer to as small, are town of up to 100,000 people. <...> The lion's share - 75.2% - shows negative trends based on a number of criteria: the population, the growth of tax revenues, etc — Alexey Firsov, General Director, Platforma Social Design Centre.

Governments focus: small towns problems

The message of the President (to the Federal Assembly – Editor’s note), as well as many other fundamental government documents touch upon the problems of small towns — Maksim Maksimov, General Director, MiM LLC.

Small towns to potentially become centres of development

If we continue the topic of environment, infrastructure and transport, we can turn small towns in centres of development. Because, in fact, living in a small town is more pleasant — Andrey Chibis, Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing, and Utilities of the Russian Federation.

ISSUES
Insufficient municipal budgets

Only 15% (of taxes – Editor’s note) stays in the city budget, everything else goes levels up — Alexey Firsov, General Director, Platforma Social Design Centre.

Underdeveloped utilities in small towns

As of 2000, 47% of housing in small towns, which are 20–50 thousand residents, did not have hot water supply, 62% had no sewer system — Maksim Maksimov, General Director, MiM LLC.

We need to come up with the following proposal: when we begin to develop industrial parks or single-industry towns, we must provide funds for infrastructure development. <...> Because we can relay everything to small, poor and insolvent population — Elena Dovlatova, Executive Director, Russian Association of Water Supply and Sewerage.

We face the following problems: we need qualified staff, they have certain demands to the standard of living, and the lack of urban infrastructure is of key importance for them — Aleksey Kozlov, Managing Director, SIBUR.

No clear problem solving strategies

We are talking about a situation of depression, regress and misunderstanding of what to do about it. There are no coherent strategies that would make it possible to overcome this situation — Alexey Firsov, General Director, Platforma Social Design Centre.

Locals don’t trust third-party initiatives

Changes are impossible without active participation of the local community. It is difficult to win the trust of these people <...> They are always suspicious of every initiative that comes from outside — Igor Zadorin, Member of the Expert Council for Small Territories.

High share of shadow economy

In Pskov Oblast, it took me 18 months to get honey producers from the shadow area. <...> When people believed that no one wanted to make money out of them<...> they started registering as self-employed entrepreneurs. We have a vague idea that the region produced a certain amount of honey. But when I drove around remote areas of it, it turned out it was about 10 times more — Natalia Trunova, Head of Spatial Development at the Centre for Strategic Research.

Low level of control

Another problem is a blatantly low level of public administration in small town — Andrey Bezrukov, Director for Strategic Projects and Communications, GS Group .

SOLUTIONS
Developing transportation in small towns and rural areas

Today, 14 million people in 36 metropolitan areas in Russia (that excludes Moscow and St. Petersburg metropolitan areas) that share a total of over 44 million residents live in small towns and rural areas. This is a great potential that can be used through development of transport network — Natalia Trunova, Head of Spatial Development at the Centre for Strategic Research.

Higher revenues for local budgets

Suzdal is a popular tourist destination that attracts a huge number of tourists. <...> But who gets the money that tourists bring? It’s businesses that use sketchy schemes half the times. It’s the district that has nothing to do with tourism, and the regional centre. <...> How do we propose to solve this problem? First of all, we are lobbying redistribution of the personal income tax. Secondly, the land value tax should stay in the municipal budget. Thirdly, tourists visiting small towns must a fee. We need an appropriate law — Sergey Sakharov, Head of Administration of Suzdal.

To fill a small town’s budget, you need to cancel the patents, cancel the UTII and leave just one tax – the simplified taxation system (STS). In Nizhny Novgorod, for example, the STS was given to municipalities. <...> We need to give small towns an opportunity to earn and to get entrepreneurs out of the shadows — Andrey Pavlov, Founder and President of Zenden Group.

Federal government and business to support utilities development

The infrastructure built in the Soviet times was designed for a different level of consumption, and it is expensive to maintain. <...> When it comes to water supply and sanitation, small town economy requires federal support. <...> We have drafted a set of decisions and proposals <...> for our country’s leadership as part of the May decree preparation. Now the Ministry of Finance is finalizing the calculations, but we will fight to make sure small towns get both water supply and sewage <...>through public and investors’ funds — Andrey Chibis, Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing, and Utilities of the Russian Federation.

Today we are relocating part of our employees from the overheated IT market in St. Petersburg to the town of Gusev. <...> We used our own resources to overcome insufficient infrastructure: we invested about 1 billion roubles to create of our own infrastructure — Andrey Bezrukov, Director for Strategic Projects and Communications, GS Group .

Engaging residents and businesses in resolving local problems

The most talented young people leave for universities and never return. <...> We have developed a project called Spatial Development. Based on the results of the project, we plan to build project teams in 100 municipalities that will need to implement at least one social project. The main idea behind it is that these guys will form an active team around themselves, which anyone can join — Pavel Krasnorutsky, Chairman, Russian Union of Youth (RUY).

Since 2014, we have been looking at small towns to select those, who are ready to take responsibility for developing of their hometowns. <...> These people help us identify social and cultural initiatives in small towns, as well as build partnerships for entrepreneurs, authorities and local residents, which will drive changes in the territory. <...> One of those projects is called Tulun City — Elena Konovalova, Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation.

The town of Tulun is located 400 km from Irkutsk, 41 thousand people, one backbone enterprise, and the status of a factory town with a sad economic situation. <...> Until 1992, we had a glass factory. With the support of the mayor and Timchenko Foundation, they bought equipment, found the former director of the factory, foremen, and so it went. Serious partners joined us. We found an investor and started building a glass composite plant — Julia Buldakova, Co-Founder, Project Manager, Tulun City Public Organization for Support of Youth Social Projects and Creative Initiatives Tulun.Ru.

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS