SIMILAR AND DIFFERENT SHIRAK
Every time I visit the marz Shirak I have double feelings. From one point it is totally associated with Gyumri. It seems everything is homogeneous. When you talk about the marz Shirak first thing that is coming to the mind is Gyumri. From another point the marz amazes with its diversity: Artik, Jajur, Amasia…One can find more differences than similarities. And those three regions Amasia-Ashotsk, Gyumri and Artik-Maralik dictate their agendas, which are expressed also in business fields.
THE MOTHERLAND OF PINK TUFF
The first ones on the road from Yerevan to the marz Shirak are Artik-Maralik twins. The pinkness of Yerevan is Artik’s grace. Artik’s tuff mines are well known not only in Armenia, but also beyond CIS countries, Europe, USA. Artik has one advantage as well. It is the location of the city, with strategic, interstate roads available on both sides: Yerevan-Gyumri-state board, the part of the long-haul “North-South” highway and the roads leading to Vanadzor, Alaverdi, Bagratashen.
GYUMRI IS A CITY OF CONTRASTS
“Do you have business in here?”- this question I have been asked only in Gyumri, when I implement some consultancy projects or trainings. They want to understand, to trust or not, they want to find out whether you are one of them or not. Trust, or, more precisely, to let enter his surrounding is the most important factor for Gyumri peopele.
Gyumri is a city of emotions and contrasts. When there is a business training in the “Loft”, people take credits in the opposite building to survive. When you walk in the crashed streets, but there are beautiful buildings with eye pleasing doors. When you are motivated and amazed because of the youth of Gyumri technological center, and in the front garden there is another kind of the “youth”. Amalya Tumasyan, the director of “Loft Gyumri”, once said an interesting idea, that Gyumri youth is different inside the “Loft” and out of it. Outside they are anxious, inside of the “Loft” a smile appears on their faces.
Gyumri people should definitely say their opinion, even in the case when no one is asking. I was in a training in one of the banks of Gyumri, the policeman in the hall listened everything and during the break approached and said: “It is not that I agree with everything you say”.
Regardless of everything, I feel good in Gyumri. It is impossible not to love it.
GYUMRI IS A CITY OF BUSINESS
Gyumri can breath with business. Fortunately, it has already started. I am talking about serious, future oriented business equipped with advanced technologies. Several years ago, by the order of “Gyumri Foundation”, BSC was implementing research and consultancy project with the name of “Gyumri as a center of cultural tourism”. There are plenty of opportunities, even not discovered. The city of cultures and crafts can be reborn as a powerful touristic center. And with very quickly steps.
Gyumry technological center (GTC) gave a new breath to the city when everything seemed hopeless. This is a great opportunity for the city, to involve Armenian and abroad IT big businesses. The process has already started due to EIF and personally Amalya Eghoyan.
The achievements in the lightweight industry have been slowly restored. When I was in Gyumri in April, I visited jeans factory founded by the “Zakaryan” company: more than 80 workplaces, export-oriented and qualified products. How proud the founders and workers were telling about their production, what a great responsibility they were feeling towards the work, how careful they were treating the expensive equipment. When the commercial director, Lilit Zakaryan, was telling about the strategy, it was already clear, it would have success. Few of acting businesses in Gyumri are thinking about the strategy. They certainly should.
The regions in the North, as Amasia and Ashotsk, are well known for stiff winters and processing of milk: two advantages that certainly should be used. EU has already started to implement programmes to make winter holiday and sport center in Amasia. “Bandevan” and “Igit” dairy products, especially cheese, are associated only with high quality. There are more opportunities in this region. For example, few of tea and herb goods are used for collection and packaging. The professionals will tell more precisely, but I think there are plants in Amasia and Ashotsk mountains that are exceptional for Armenia.
Textile industry can be one of the developing directions, especially in city communes. There are limitless opportunities of cattle breeding and especially sheep breeding in village communes.
LOOKING AT THE FUTURE
The economy of the marz Shirak, in my opinion, has great opportunities to recover the historical indicators, when it was considered to be the second greatest center of Armenian economy. Priority problem in here is to recover the roads. Especially we can have great hopes on the “North-South” road. Although it should be built yet. If the roads are built, I believe, the marz will develop at indescribable great speed and only based on inside resources. On the other hand, the marz is already becoming interesting for foreign investors. Due to “Armath” laboratories opened by UATE and already mentioned above Gyumri technological center, the marz can have a significant role in the development of Armenian technology.
At the point of tourism, if one says there are opportunities, it means to say nothing. The flora, the peculiarities of landscapes, the variety of historical monuments, the opportunities of craftsmanship are a little part that can promote the quick development and growth of tourism in the marz.
The adventurous and winter tourism, especially in the North of the marz, can become one of the most attractive in Armenia. In case of involving investments the territory called Lager, which has the climate of Tsakhadzor, can become touristic center, so said second Tsakhadzor.
There is a great vision of social entrepreneurship as well. The first inclusive café “Aregak” is the best example of it.