What are good practices in Lublin Region aiming to support entrepreneurs in startup and running a business? The question addressed to representatives of the local business support environment was on top of the agenda of START EASY regional stakeholder group meetings in Lublin, held online on August 6-7, 2020. The events served as a platform to exchange experiences and evaluate instruments supporting regional business at each growth phase. Key role in policy design has primarily public administration, but important is also startup ecosystem, and businesses themselves. Therefore, as an event organizer, Lublin Science and Technology Park made an effort to bring closer both public and private perspectives. Relevant point was made also on Polish national solutions and those addressing challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19: business is not alone. In times of coronavirus lockdown which hardly hit global economy, businesses from Lublin Region were offered multilateral support measures, not just financial ones. It was the effect of a complex deal designed in different forms by both central and local governments, to ensure stability for Polish economy. For instance, City of Lublin has introduced several soft and financial instruments that can be interesting for other public authorities:

#zostanwdomu.lublin.eu – program established in response to government guidelines to stay at home. The platform operating in form of a marketplace is dedicated to support Lublin-based entrepreneurs and institutions in reaching with their products and services to local inhabitants in times of lockdown

#LublinZdalnieLokalnie – effect of cooperation between the City and an online platform Zado.pl. The idea was primarily born in another Polish City of Wrocław. It offers to set up a free of charge online store account .

Lubelski Pakiet Wsparcia dla Lokalnych Przedsiębiorców i Organizacji Pozarządowych – Lublin Support Package for Local Entrepreneurs and NGOs. It includes reduction or exemption from rent rate, provision of installments or deferring rent and local tax payment dues, as well as deferring payment dues or provision of installments based on perpetual usufruct

• a complex response of administration was delivered also by other local governments in the region. For example, some anti-crisis packages were offered to businesses in Łuków, Biała Podlaska or Chełm (here, relevant information is provided under the section „Coronavirus – Q&A”).

National perspective: Thanks to the anti-crisis shield provided by the Polish government, businesses were (and mostly still are) offered a variety of financial support programs, e.g. 3 month exemption from social security contributions. According to research carried out on commission of Polish employers’ representative Confederation Lewiatan, this instrument occurred to be the most useful form of support for entrepreneurs in terms of mitigating the negative effects of epidemic.

From complex information services to one-stop shops. Progressing digitization of public life, as well as a universe of business needs pose new challenges for the ecosystem of support. One of them is to support entrepreneurs and investors at every stage of their operations, in one (virtual or physical) place. To make it easier for business to obtain necessary information and make right decisions, public administrations in the region create instruments in form of online portals and dedicated offers led by internal organizational units:

• information points: Przedsiębiorczy Lublin (Entrepreneurial Lublin) – initiative of local authorities (Strategy and Entrepreneurship Department) covering practically all activities of the City Office aiming to support Lublin entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

• investor services contact points: a rich investment related support in Polish regions is possible thanks to programs implemented by Polish Investment and Trade Agency (PAIH) in cooperation with regional public authorities, and with cities and other local governments as well. For instance, services are provided in form of consultancy in startup procedures, business incentives, residence permits or other strategic decisions. In Lublin Voivodeship, one can find few contact points providing investment related services on both regional and local level, e.g.: Biznes Lubelskie Team, an initiative of Marshal's Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship aiming to strengthen cooperation with investors and exporters; Investor Relations Office, a part of Lublin City Office running dedicated investment portals for both Polish (Gospodarczy Lublin) and foreign (Invest in Lublin) investors; as well as local contact points for investors in Zamość or Chełm.

National perspective: a great example of national OSS integrating lower level administrations is the government-led platform biznes.gov.pl, Polish flagship tool covering comprehensive business services in relations with public administration.