As Greece's economic and development infrastructure expands, special investment incentives are luring businesses to areas where geographic advantages, a willing workforce, and local support create an attractive business environment. Greece's less-developed prefectures are offering a wide range of new opportunities for businesses to flourish in a host of areas - from agriculture to tourism, from mining to manufacturing. Greece's committment to building new industrial areas and technology parks means that the infrastructure - buildings, roads, telecommunications - and plenty of assistance, are available for new businesses to begin operating without the usual start-up headaches.
The prefecture of Pieria, in the northern Greece region of Central Macedonia, has impressive geographical features. It is flanked by Mountain Olympus, the Pieria mountain range, and the coast of Thermaikos Bay. At the center of the prefecture, which covers an area of 1,516 square kilometers and has a population of 129,846, lies the capital town of Katerini, 440 kilometers from Athens and 70 kilometers from Thessaloniki. It was originally thought that Katerini, a significant urban center in Northern Greece, was originally built on the ruins of the ancient Macedonian city “Atiron,” but the prevailing belief today is that it was built during the years of Turkish occupation.
The mountainous nature of the area, with Mount Olympus, the home of the twelve Gods of Greek mythology, Mount Titaros, and the mountain range of Pieria combine with the rich coastal wetlands to create an ecosystem of great wealth.
The entire area is of great historical and archaeological interest. Just five kilometers from Pieria’s beaches is Ancient Dion, the holy city of Macedonia, a thriving center of civilization for 1,000 years and where Alexander the Great gathered his troops before setting out on his famous journeys. On the west coast of the Thermaikos Gulf are the remains of Byzantine Pydna, renamed Kitros in the 7th century, the most important city of medieval Pieria. Excavations in 1992 brought to light the remains of one of the largest pre-historic settlements in Greece, at Makrigialos, which visitors encounter as they travel west of Ancient Pydna.
These important sites testify to the long historical tradition of the area and signify the enormous potential for sustainable tourism investment.
In addition, the mountainous nature of the area, with Mount Olympus, the home of the twelve Gods of Greek mythology, Mount Titaros, and the mountain range of Pieria combine with the rich coastal wetlands to create an ecosystem of great wealth. The wide variety of flora and fauna provide an ideal environment for agrotourism investment. The region attracts a mix of visitors—sun and sea lovers, history and archaeological buffs, and outdoor sportspeople—and offers a wide range of accommodation, each suited to the visitor's needs. The vast expanses of sandy beaches, all 70 kilometers of them, offer splendid possibilities for visitors seeking a sea and sun experience.
And, a series of cultural events, such as the Olympus festival and the International Folklore Festival, draw repeat visitors each year.
Pieria, which offers investors an attractive environment to develop ecotourism, agrotourism, and cultural and historical tourism, has the major competitive advantage of its geographical position. Its proximity to the Athens-Larissa-Thessaloniki highway means access to the sea and the neighboring areas is easy, and the region is considered a main gateway to Central and Southern Greece, not only for the inhabitants of Macedonia and Thessaly but for East European and other Balkan countries—Hungary, Czech Pepublic, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, the Former Republic of Yugoslavia and others.
The region’s mild climate and abundant water, as well as the large percentage of land available for cultivation (38.1% of the total prefecture), make agricultural production the primary sector of the area’s economic activities.
Of the total production, 34% is grain, followed by tobacco, corn, rice, potatoes, cotton, melon, grapes and olives. Opportunities for investment in this sector lie in the area of organic cultivation, and local experts believe that organic kiwi cultivation is one strong area with growth potential.
Of the 256,000 hectares of the prefecture, 17.5% are covered by pastures, where goats, sheep, pigs, oxen, and chickens graze. In addition, ostriches farming has gained popularity in recent years.
The fishing industry of the prefecture employs about 400 persons and 60% of the total Greek production of mussels is cultivated in Pieria.
In other sectors, marble, food and beverages, wood and metal, leather and furs and construction play a vital role. Manufacturing represents a sector with potential for further development, since transportation is convenient and natural gas is available, as are extensive land areas.
Mrs Partsalidou, Director of Pieriki-Anaptixiaki S.A. (the local investment agency) says “local investors have, so far, been focusing on the development of agritourism enterprises, on accommodation, alternative tourism forms and on the manufacturing and certification of agricultural products, through the EU LEADER+ program and the Integrated Program for Development of Agricultural Areas. Through these programs, the certification of enterprises in the services and products sectors is reinforced, the local population is encouraged to stay in the area and the competitive advantages of the region, through the enhancement of its natural beauty and cultural tradition are brought forward ”.
Investments Incentives in Manufacturing
Cash Grant - 30%
Leasing Subsidy - 30%
Tax Allowance - 70%
Investments Incentives in Tourism
A) For the modernisation of hotel units, the restoration of traditional houses or buildings into hotels, and for alternative forms of tourism (conference centres, golf courses, thalassotherapy centres, thermal springs and spas, marinas):
Cash Grant - up to 45%
Leasing Subsidy - up to 45%
Tax Allowance - up to 100%
B) For the establishment or expansion of 4 and/or 5 star hotel units:
Cash Grant - 20%
Leasing Subsidy - 20%
Tax Allowance - 40%
C) For the establishment or expansion of lower category hotel units in the mainland area:
Cash Grant - 15%
Leasing Subsidy - 15%
Tax Allowance - 40%
*There are no subsidies or other forms of incentives for lower category hotel units in coastal areas.