There is money to be made in Poland.
That was the message of Adam Normark, second secretary at the Polish Embassy in Washington, on a recent trip to Atlanta for a trade fair. Poland’s gross domestic product increased by 1.1 percent in the second quarter of 2009, the best performance of any country in the European Union. “Compared to the rest of Europe, we’re doing pretty well,” Mr. Normark told GlobalAtlanta.
Poland, a country of 38 million people, offers many investment opportunities for U.S. companies, he said. For example, Poland will receive $75 billion from the E.U.’s Structural Fund, an economic stimulus program, through 2013 for roads, bridges and other projects.
“There are opportunities to partner up with Polish companies and receive some of that money,” said Mr. Normark. “The biggest chunk of EU structural funds is going towards infrastructure. Poland has been lacking adequate infrastructure for highways. For many years it’s been a drawback for our economy. In the next five years, we’re trying to catch up.”
There is also Structural Fund cash available to help small- to medium- sized Polish companies export their products, he said. “The program gets small- to medium- sized companies to develop, to go outside, to go on trade missions to the United States,” said Mr. Normark. “Why not to Atlanta?”
In addition, there are funds available to train Polish workers in foreign languages and for helping companies there become more competitive, Mr. Normark said.
Many investment opportunities revolve around the 2012 European soccer championship, which will be held in Poland and Ukraine. The month-long tournament will be the world’s third largest sporting event, behind the Olympics and World Cup soccer tournament, Mr. Normark said. “This will create a huge opportunity,” he added. “We have a very close deadline to fill many requirements to be able to host the tournament in a very safe and efficient way.”
U.S. companies can partner with Polish firms to provide a wide array of goods and services for the tournament including food, marketing and construction, he said. “Anything you can think of will be happening for one month,” he said.
Now is a good time to invest in Poland because the country is working toward adopting the Euro as its currency, Mr. Normark said. “It will happen eventually,” he said. “Once that happens, investors will be free of the currency risk, which will give you opportunities not only in Poland but in the entire single European market. You’re going to have a true free flow of goods, services and capital, and you can still be based in Poland which, compared with the rest of Europe, is still competitive in terms of cost.”
Those companies already established in Poland when the Euro conversion takes place will have a head start, said Mr. Normark. “The time to do it is now,” he said.
Witold Zabinski, a Polish native and managing partner of Atlanta company Corporate Strategies International Inc. agrees that Poland has strong investment potential for U.S. companies. “There is a very pro-American market, a very cost-effective market,” said Mr. Zabinski, whose company helps businesses set up operations in Central Europe and European companies to do business in the U.S.
The country’s location, particularly its proximity to Germany and Russia, make it ideal for doing business, said Mr. Zabinski, president of the Polish-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast United States.