Transylvanians eager to welcome Nokia to Romania
Factory being set up in dilapidated, but dynamic environment
By Ilkka Ahtiainen
A Nokia boom is taking place in Transylvania in the northwest of Romania.
A brand-new mobile telephone factory is opening in two to three weeks, and by the summer, the plant is expected to be operating in full swing.
"The arrival of Nokia here is very important. Not just for this region, but for all of Romania", says Marius-Petre Nicoara, the top official of Cluj province.
Nicoara, who had made his fortune in business, was the person who negotiated a contract with Nokia on setting up a factory in the area.
According to Nicoara, Nokia's importance for the whole country is based on two factors: most of the tax revenues brought by Nokia will go into the state coffers, but even more important, Nokia is a brand that is well known around the world.
"Nokia will bring Romania recognition, and it will attract new companies to invest in the country", Nicoara says.
In the first phases, the factory will employ about 500 people, but when it gets into full swing, the "Nokia Village" will have 3,500 people working there.
Naturally this is not everything. Labour officials in the area believe that the existence of the factory will bring in another 15,000 jobs indirectly.
One of the indirect beneficiaries can be found at the gate of the construction site of the factory, in the municipality of Jucu 25 kilometres east of the city of Cluj-Napoca.
It is there that 51-year-old Viorel Jiman, who works for a local security company, controlling traffic at the gates of the factory. Vans and trucks zoom back and forth. Construction is taking place seven days a week.
Jiman lost his job operating the bottling machine at a brewery when he had to have a stomach operation.
"Now I got a new chance", he says.
A couple of kilometres from the building site toward Cluj-Napoca is a man who is at least as happy as Jiman. Fabian Chira, 41, left the transport business to become the owner of a motel three years ago.
"At that time there was no indication of the arrival of Nokia, but there were two foreign companies here already, and I predicted that the area would develop rapidly", he says.
Although the overall appearance of the municipality of Jucu is dilapidated by West European standards, the intense construction of roads and bridges, and the number of new houses, and others still under construction, indicate that Jucu is changing at a dizzying pace.
Nokia's arrival is making Chira make new plans as well.
"I had thought that the motel would expand sometime in the next ten years, but now it is happening in two years."
Already now, Chira has 45 people working for him.
Looking at the map, Cluj-Napoca, a city of 350,000, would appear to be located in the middle of nowhere, but in reality, it has a long history as a centre of Transylvania, and as a university town.
A total of 100,000 young people study in ten different institutions of higher education, Nicoara says.
Nicoara concludes that the availability of highly-educated labour is an important factor in Nokia's decision to come to the area.
"We also have previous experience in having a technology park", he points out.
Nokia was not the first large foreign company to find Cluj-Napoca. Siemens, and the American automation technology company Emerson have set up parks of their own around Cluj-Napoca.
Nicoara is very familiar with the anger that the closure of the factory in Bochum caused in Germany.
"Perhaps it would be good for the Germans to calculate how much money Nokia brought them in 20 years.
Nicoara is not afraid that Nokia might leave Jucu some day. The technology park will be built in such a way that the company will have all of the subcontractors it needs in the neighbourhood, contrary to what was the case in Bochum.
"Then it will be difficult for them to leave. I believe that Nokia will stay year 20 to 30 years."
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 26.1.2008
Previously in HS International Edition:
Construction of Nokia’s new factory in Romania troubled by delays (28.1.2008)
Nokia´s Kallasvuo apologises to Germans (25.1.2008)
Announcing record result, Nokia reiterates faith in Siemens deal (26.1.2007)
Nokia CEO Kallasvuo: "No lifetime jobs in open competitive market" (24.1.2008)
Nokia shutting down plant in Germany, moving manufacture to Romania (16.1.2008)
ILKKA AHTIAINEN / Helsingin Sanomat