Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2013 - Page 53

these plans is the travel / shopping / congress centre which will be built just next door to the railway station. According to construction company SRV, the new complex could be ready in 2015. Quality Workers Available Presently, Kouvola is also the 10th biggest city in Finland. People here are educated and possess a wide range of expertise. There is also workforce available for new businesses, Simo Päivinen adds. “There are, for example, a lot of professionals who speak Russian in the region.” Even more important than language skills is the presence of strong networks in Kouvola. According to Kinno’s Aleksandra Airikainen, for newcomers it is extremely easy to join the local business community. “We will help with the right contacts and find likeminded partners for new companies,” Airikainen says. Fledgling companies have found that Kouvola Innovation is very good at eliminating all forms of red tape: in just a couple of days, the company is registered and good to go, with premises and bank accounts standing by. “The idea is to make it as easy as possible to establish a business here,” Airikainen adds. Veturi Kicks Off which total 200,000 square meters in size and also a trading, wholesale and customs centre for international logistics. There are already several international companies with operations in the area, says Simo Päivinen from Kinno. “Tailored rail connections can be established for logistics players with ease in Kouvola,” Päivinen promises. For business travellers, the launch of the fast Allegro connection a couple of years ago has meant that St. Petersburg is closer than ever before. Asko Pesonen believes that there is potential to develop that angle even further: Kouvola could become a genuine congress city, too. The centre piece of For Kouvola, the biggest buzz in 2012 has been the launch of the shopping centre Veturi in September. With 48,000 square metres of leasable space, Veturi is the biggest shopping centre in South Eastern Finland. The builder of the new shopping oasis, Kesko, had been looking for a suitable place to try out its new shopping centre concept. Finally, the right plot was found in Kouvola and the construction of the 100 million EUR shopping centre could commence. Regional Director Timo Heikkilä from Kesko says that the Veturi investment is the single biggest investment that the company has made in retail business. “We analysed very carefully the development of purchasing power in the region as well as the future potential. We wanted to bring our very best expertise to Veturi,” Heikkilä says. With over 80 stores, Veturi has attracted a steady flow of customers from the local community – and beyond. The biggest shopping centre in Southeast Finland clearly has pull. “The idea is to get customers from the core area – that is to say Kouvola Region – first, and then, gradually, to draw in people from outside the region as well,” Heikkilä lays out the master plan. tage of this opportunity and serve also our Russian customers. This is clearly a situation where everybody should assist in getting the word out there,” he says, adding that the corporate circles and city officials share a common view in this. It will take a couple of years before the full impact of the shopping centre can be really assessed, but Heikkilä says that the launch of the centre has been very promising. There are also plans to add some new elements into the mix: there’s still 40,000 square metres of con