The political situation in the commune is very stable. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the commune heads have been affiliated with the Freedom Union and then the Civic Platform. These political views are represented by the majority of the commune council. Since 1990, Tarnowo Podgórne has had four commune heads. Between 1990 and 2001 the function was held by Waldy Dzikowski. The end of his term of office was connected with the fact that he became a Member of Parliament representing the Civic Platform. The commune council elected Krzysztof Krzysztofiak as the new head, who had been the director of the Budgetary Division of the Commune in Tarnowo since 1992.
In 2002, four candidates took part in the first direct elections for the commune head. In the first round, Krzysztofiak and the new candidate Kazimierz Marchlewski had a very similar number of votes, but none of them gathered the required absolute majority. Marchlewski won in the second round with 54% of the votes. However, the change in the position of the commune head did not mean a change of the political option since both candidates were connected with the Civic Platform. The basic difference between them was that Krzysztofiak came from Tarnowo Podgórne and Marchlewski from Przeźmierowo. Before the second round of the elections, the candidates agreed that, regardless of who was elected the commune head, they would nominate their opponent to the post of a deputy. This agreement was kept. In the next elections a similar situation took place. Marchlewski competed with the new candidate Tadeusz Czajka. Both of them were affiliated with the Civic Platform. Czajka won by a small number of votes (50.83%). The results of the vote showed a clear differentiation of the commune to the east (Przeźmierowo, Baranowo, Wysogotowo) supporting Marchlewski and to the west (Tarnowo Podgórne and other villages) supporting Czajka.
The elections in 2010 and 2014 took a different course. There were no two candidates from the Civic Platform. The main opponent of the incumbent commune head Tadeusz Czajka was Barbara Nowak from Przeźmierowo backed by Law and Justice. In 2010, Czajka won with a big advantage (76.25%), and in the following elections – only slightly less (68.71%). In both elections, the east-west division was replaced by ideological differences (Czajka also gained a clear advantage in Przeźmierowo).
Before becoming the commune head in 2006, Tadeusz Czajka had been gaining experience in the commune local government bodies since 1994 acting successively as a councilor, chairman of the Investment Committee, deputy chairman of the Commune Board and for two terms of office – chairman of the Commune Council. Therefore, he cooperated with all three previous heads, including Waldy Dzikowski, considered to be the “father” of the local success.
The succession of power at the position of the commune head in Tarnowo Podgórne is an interesting example of personnel changes while maintaining the continuity of power representing one political option. Consequently, the development goals of the commune have been implemented independently of personnel changes in the council and the authorities.
Public (including EU) investments and their results
The long-lasting good economic situation, the inflow of investments and the stability of power translated into the fact that already before Poland’s accession to the European Union many basic investments had been completed in the commune. The gas and telephone networks were developed already in the 1990s. It is worth noting that this was accomplished with the involvement of the residents, who organized these investments themselves and financed them to a large extent. Public areas in the commune are neat and aesthetic. This applies both to the capital as well as to other villages. The commune provides access to utilities for investment parcels – those owned by the commune and held by private individuals.
The commune has a well-developed road infrastructure, including pavements and bike paths, which have been extended in recent years. Roads are built or renovated using the commune own funds, often in cooperation with companies which participate in the investment costs if it improves access to their parcels or even – especially in the case of large companies – they finance the investment projects in full.
The local government used EU funds to a limited extent. This was due to two factors. First of all, many of the investment projects, for which EU funds could be obtained, had already been completed. Secondly, the wealth of the commune proved to be an obstacle in obtaining the funding. Tarnowo Podgórne was losing with less affluent local governments which could score more points in project assessment due to a more difficult situation. This second factor was the reason why the commune did not receive a subsidy for the school extension.
The most important projects for which the commune received funding under the Regional Operational Program of the Wielkopolska Province for 2007-2013 are:
- construction of the western bypass road of Tarnowo Podgórne (the value of the project amounted to PLN 10.4 million, the European Union funding – PLN 3.7 million),
- development of Lusowskie Lake beach (project value – PLN 1.9 million, EU funding – PLN 0.6 million),
- purchase of a rescue and firefighting vehicle for the Voluntary Fire Brigade (project value – PLN 0.7 million, EU funding – PLN 0.4 million).
In the 2004-2006 perspective, the commune office obtained only one subsidy. They were scholarship funds for students from rural areas from the Integrated Regional Operational Program in the amount not exceeding PLN 23 thousand. The sewerage system in the eastern part of the commune was built and modernized from the pre-accession funds (ISPA) as part of a larger project implemented by the city of Poznań.
Nevertheless, in the opinion of the commune authorities, EU funds play an important role through the companies receiving the subsidies. Under the 2004-2006 and 2007-2013 programs, over 100 companies from the commune received funding. One of the largest investment projects was the construction of a plant (total cost PLN 103 million, EU funding PLN 35 million) for Curtis Health Caps Sp. z o.o., a company manufacturing soft capsules and liquid forms for the pharmaceutical industry. Subsidies for companies raise their technological level, increase production capacity and their competitiveness. Consequently, there are benefits for the commune in the form of workplaces, sometimes of better quality, as well as an increase in tax revenues (share in CIT).
The commune built a swimming pool and recreation complex “Tarnowskie Termy” with its own funds. The water park uses geothermal waters. The neighborhood of the water park is to be occupied by the Health Park – an area where companies will be able to conduct commercial activities in the area of health services, rehabilitation, also using geothermal waters (according to the information obtained in the office, the first investor has been acquired).
Commune support for business enterprises
The development of entrepreneurship has been an unchanging priority of the commune authorities since the beginning of the 1990s. New investment projects can obtain exemptions from local charges (property tax), usually for the period of up to three years. Such reliefs can also be obtained in the case of business development and revitalization of neglected facilities for business activity. As a matter of principle, the commune office seeks to provide all investment parcels (currently offered to investors mainly by private owners) with basic technical infrastructure: electricity, water, gas and sewage system. Small and medium-sized enterprises can also count on the financial participation of the commune in connecting the road infrastructure to the company property. In the case of large companies, the commune usually expects that they will finance the construction, extension or renovation of the road on their own.
An interesting example of cooperation between the commune and business is the Amazon investment project located just off the national road no. 92. The company financed the construction of an overpass over the road (cost of about PLN 20 million) which creates a collision-free access to the facility and a collision-free crossroads along the local road. Even though the national road is managed by the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA), the commune made sure that the investor paid for the construction of the overpass. According to the information obtained from the commune office, GDDKiA was not interested in obliging Amazon to carry out this investment project.
The community office organizes conferences, trainings and other events on its own (or participates as a partner in their organization) in order to increase the competence of local entrepreneurs and company employees, and to establish new business contacts, etc.
Investment areas and spatial planning
Tarnowo Podgórne can be perceived as a spontaneously developed economic zone. The investments came to this area without special incentives and actions at national or regional level. Such grassroots nature of the development translates, among other things, into the fact that it is not a compact area developed for business activity. There are several concentrations of enterprises in the commune, particularly along the national road no. 92, however elsewhere the spatial development is already of a mosaic character. Single-family housing estates are adjacent to corporate facilities, and warehouses are surrounded by farmland. This partly chaotic character of the development may lead to the deterioration of living conditions and consequently to conflicts in the future. It is a realistic scenario since there are still free investment areas in the commune with access to utilities and conveniently connected. The commune office is actively promoting at least several offers, usually privately owned and previously used as agricultural land.
The commune is in most part covered by local zoning plans. They often cover a small area usually intended for investment projects. The plan covering the village of Tarnowo Podgórne is a positive example as it determines and organizes the street network and residential areas for the needs of the expected steady population growth (development especially in the north and west, mainly in the vicinity of the Tarnowo Podgórne bypass road). Spatial planning, including the improvement of the current zoning and ensuring spatial order in the coming decades, is undoubtedly one of the most serious challenges for the commune and probably one of the greatest limitations of sustainable development (potentially growing conflict between the residential and economic functions).
Promotion of the commune
The commune is recognized on a regional and national scale as an attractive place for business. Development companies handling investment projects for large businesses are constantly monitoring the local offer of investment areas (this was the case with Amazon – two large development companies, Panattoni and Goodman, offered Amazon two different parcels in Tarnowo Podgórne; even two building permit proceedings were initiated but ultimately Amazon chose Panattoni’s offer). Nevertheless, the local authorities continue to promote the commune using various channels. The commune has a professional website with a special section for entrepreneurs and investors, and it also has an active Facebook profile.
The commune office is highly innovative in undertaking promotional activities. Two examples of those are worth mentioning. In 2009, a competition called “Registered – Privileged” was initiated, in which persons registered for residence in the commune could win a car (Peugeot 107). The direct aim of the action was to encourage unregistered residents to register (in the opinion of the commune authorities, this aim has been achieved to a satisfactory extent). The indirect aim was promotion. This was achieved because offering a valuable prize in exchange for the registration attracted media attention. The second example is the conference “Decoded Business – Decoded Local Government” organized for the first time in 2014. Its aim is to get together local government officials and entrepreneurs from Poland and abroad in Tarnowo Podgórne and to attract media attention. In the future, the local government wants to use its promotional activities to create the stronger image of the commune as a place not only friendly to business, but also attractive to live and spend free time (its offer includes the lake in Lusowo with a modern beach and Tarnowskie Termy water park with the planned Health Park).
Cooperation with other local government bodies
The local government of the commune cooperates with neighboring communes as well as county and regional authorities. The main and most important partner is the city of Poznań. Thanks to good relations, it was possible to include the commune in the project of expansion and modernization of the sewage infrastructure carried out by Poznań. Consequently, the eastern part of the commune was connected to the sewage system. The cooperation also applies to the public transport, which is gradually integrated (a common public transport ticket will be used from 2016), as well as to education, especially the reimbursement of the costs of attending kindergartens and schools for children and teenagers from outside the catchment area of a particular institution. The commune established such cooperation not only with Poznań, but also with other neighboring communes. Since Tarnowo Podgórne has an extensive waste collection and storage infrastructure, it can offer such services to the neighbors (the commune owned corporation from Tarnowo Podgórne participates in tenders initiated by the neighboring communes and municipalities and wins them).
The cooperation platform is the Poznań Metropolis Association. In the absence of systemic solutions (at the national level), cooperation within this association is not as effective as one might expect. Integrated Territorial Investments are an instrument to reinforce the cooperation. Within their framework, Tarnowo Podgórne uses mainly the opportunity to develop transport infrastructure, particularly public transport. A strategic plan for the commune authorities, which requires the involvement of many partners, is to create a rail connection with the center of Poznań. According to the information obtained in the office, the key partners (the city of Poznań, poznański county) are interested in the implementation of this undertaking.
Business environment institutions
Due to its location right next to Poznań, there are practically no typical business environment institutions in the commune. The offer of units located in Poznań is sufficient, especially since the capital of Wielkopolska has a relatively well-developed system of business environment institutions (cf. Bąkowski, Mażewska 2012; Płoszaj 2013a). There are units offering both simple services and advanced support, including those based on the resources of the Poznań academic center.
An important institution operating in Tarnowo Podgórne is the Association of Tarnowo Entrepreneurs [Tarnowskie Stowarzyszenie Przedsiębiorców – TSP]. It has a function of integrating the environment (monthly meetings) and it undertakes activities aimed at increasing the competence of entrepreneurs, establishing new contacts and cooperation. The Association organizes a competition for young people “My Business Idea”. The participants can be lower and upper secondary school students. The competition has a long tradition – the 12th edition was held in 2015 – it also gained support and recognition in the local environment.