Podkarpacie voivodeship lies in south-eastern Poland with its capital Rzeszów. Northern and central parts of the region are strongly industrialized. Aircraft industry, furniture industry, engineering industry and IT (computer science industry) dominate these areas.
The southern section of the voivodeship is Bieszczady – the so-called “green lungs” of the region.
According to the Statistics Office of Rzeszów, in September 2014 the unemployment rate in the voivodeship was 14.3 percent, and was higher than in the whole country – 11.5 percent. At the end of September 2014 there was one job offer per 41 unemployed. The highest unemployment rate was recorded in the Niż district (22.8 percent), the lowest in Krosno (6.8 percent) and Rzeszów (7.7 percent).
In Podkarpacie the average gross remuneration in enterprises was over 3,200 PLN in September 2014, and was higher by 3.3 percent than the year before. However, it is significantly lesser than the gross average monthly remuneration in the whole country, which was over 3,900 PLN.
Podkarpacie voivodeship is the cradle of Polish aircraft industry. This industry originated there in the interwar period, when the Central Industrial District (Centralny Okręg Przemysłowy) was established. In 1938, the ESK PZL-Rzeszów plants were built in Rzeszów. There, production of aircraft engines started in 1938.
One of the most unique and oldest clusters in Poland – Aircraft Valley Association (Stowarzyszenie Dolina Lotnicza), also functions in the region. The strength of this cluster is best proved by the fact, that more than 90 percent of Polish aircraft industry is based exclusively in this region.
Such large aircraft companies as Pratt and Whitney, Sikorsky Aircraft, MTU Aero Engines, Goodrich Corporation or Hispano Suiza invested there.
Two aircraft plants deserve special attention: the aforementioned WSK PZL-Rzeszów, where parts of aircraft engines are manufactured and drives for F16 jet planes. This company belongs to the American concern UTC since 2002.
The PZL Mielec plant manufactures the legendary helicopter Black Hawk. This, also owned by UTC concern, company is the largest aircraft manufacturer in Poland. It employs over 2,000 persons. It cooperates with the largest aircraft companies in the world. So far, UTC has invested over 125 million dollars in PZL Mielec, which enabled a rise of employment by 40 percent.
The cluster alone comprises over 100 aircraft companies which employ more than 20,000 persons. This year the cluster companies will sell parts worth over 2 million PLN. The heart of the valley is Rzeszów, while the other enterprises operate in Mielec, Sędziszów Małopolski, Krosno and Świdnik.
According to many experts, in future the Podkarpacie cluster may become a symbol not only of Polish aircraft industry, but of such industry in the entire mid-eastern Europe.
Furniture industry plays also an important role in the region. In Krosno is located the fourth biggest manufacturer of office furniture in Europe – Grupa Nowy Styl (New Style Group).
Almost 85 percent of the group’s sold goods are exported to 100 countries. The company has 19 own divisions in the whole world and 14 factories in Poland, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine. It employs about 5,700 persons, of whom 2,300 work in Poland, mostly in company’s factories in Podkarpacie.
In November 2014 Nowy Styl in Jasło opened one of the most advanced furniture factories in Europe.
Podkarpacie is also a region where new technologies thrive, especially the computer science branch. An example makes Asseco Poland with its seat in Rzeszów. Asseco is the biggest computer science company in Poland, and according to „TOP 100 European Software Vendors” ranking, the sixth in Europe.
The Rzeszów company specializes in the production and development of software for banks, health services, uniformed services, agriculture, insurance institutions, or public administration. The Asseco capital group already operates in over 30 countries around the world.
The cluster Podkarpacie computer sciences has also been active in the voivodeship since 2010. It comprises over 50 companies.
Beside the mentioned braches rubber industry is also well represented in the region. In Dębica a tire manufacturer Dębica functions. It is currently owned by the Goodyear concern. It is one of the largest tire manufacturing factories in Europe. In Sanok is Stomil Sanok specializing in the production of sealings for car bodies, as well as anti-vibratory products.
The automotive industry in Podkarpacie is also noticeably present. There is the Autosan plant, a manufacturer of buses, in Sanok. In Podgródź, not far from Dębica, is the central of the Arkus&Romet Group company – the legendary manufacturer of motorbikes and bicycles. The world-wide known electrical vehicle Melex is also produced in the region.
Podkarpacie is also the seat of the Polish leading producer of household devices (AGD): the Zelmer company. This company has been recently acquired by the German giant Bosh.
Steel mills are present in the region too. E.g. there is the mill Huta Stalowa Wola. Its civil part belong to the Chinese, so the mill has been renamed Liugong Machinery Poland, but construction machines such as excavators and bulldozers are still assembled in Stalowa Wola. The military part of the mill retains the name HSW and belongs to the National Treasury (Skarb Państwa); it turns out articles for the army.
The Krosno glass mills are the biggest household glass manufacturers in Poland. The company is one of the five participating in the first session of the Warsaw Stock Exchange (warszawska Giełdzie Papierów Wartościowych).
The presence of e.g. Aircraft Valley in Podkarpacie proves there are well educated personnel in the region. There are over 400 schools offering higher education, including 20 universities. The total number of students in the Podkarpacie voivodeship exceeds 80,000.
The biggest is Uniwersytet Rzeszowski (Rzeszów University) with its 20,000 students studying at 45 departments, mostly humanistic.
The largest technical university is Politechnika Rzeszowska (Rzeszów Polytechnics) which offers education to 16,500 students. This University comprises the only Polish center teaching civil pilots.
Podkarpacie has a relatively good road system thanks to the A4 motorway. One section of this motoraway - from Rzeszów to Jarosław – is still under construction, to be completed in 2015.
The A4 motorway is situated in the Third Pan-European Transport Corridor (Trzeci Paneuropejski Korytarz Transportowy); it runs through Poland from its western border crossing with Germany in Jędrzychowice by Zgorzelec, through Wrocław, Opole, Katowice, Kraków, Tarnów, Rzeszów to the eastern border crossing with Ukraine in Korczowa. The entire length of the Polish section of the road is 670 km.
The region communicates with other voivodeships via state roads no. 9 (Radom-Barwinek) and no. 19, which runs from Kuźnica (Podlasie voivodeship) to the border crossing with Slovakia in Barwinek.
An express highway S19 has been planned to build. It will be the strategic shortest transport way connecting the Baltic countries with the southern Europe. In Poland this road will run as the state road no. 19, from the border crossing with Belorussia in Kuźnica to the border crossing with Slovakia in Barwinek.
The Polish section of S19 will be part of the trans European corridor “Via Carpatia”. This track shall begin in the northern Europe in Klaipeda in Lithuania, run though Poland and further south through Slovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria to Greece. At Rzeszów the road will connect the A4 motorway, making up one of the chief communication junctions in the Middle Europe.
Podkarpacie voivodeship is cut by another communication track – the arterial rail road E30. It is one of the main trunk railroads of strategic importance in this part of Europe. Like the motorway A4, this arterial rail road is part of the Third Pan-European Transport Corridor which connects Germany, Poland, and Ukraine.
At present, this arterial railroad is being modernized along the Kraków-Rzeszów section. Over 138 km of tracks will be reconstructed. This modernization is connected with reconstruction and building of 138 viaducts, bridges, and trestles (flyovers). The cost of modernization of this line is approximately 3.4 million PLN. The whole investment is supposed to be accomplished in 2015.
Apart from roads and railroad the international airport in Rzeszow Jasionka is an important element of Podkarpacie infrastructure.
The airport is situated about 10 km north from the Podkarpacie capital. The port in Jasionka has the second longest in Poland (after Okęcie) runway – 3,200 meters. Thanks to this, all types of aircraft can land there, including the biggest passenger airplanes. The number of checked-out passengers was almost 600,000 people in 2013.
Since the mid 2012 the passengers can use a modern terminal. The facility has an area of 14,000 square meters, four levels, and 250 rooms. Its planned capacity is 720 passengers per hour.
According to statistic data, Jasionka has the greatest number of sunny days in Poland. That is why pilots call this airport “airport of good weather.”
From the Jasionka airport you can reach Frankfurt, Warsaw, Manchester, London (airports in Stansted and Luton), East Midlands and Dublin.
There are many centers of enterprise support which offer help to investors in Podkarpacie. One of them is Rzeszowska Agencja Rozwoju Regionalnego (RARR) (Rzeszów Agency of Regional Development), which offers a wide range of cooperation opportunities and support.
At each stage of making an investment you may turn to Centrum Obsługi Inwestora (Center of Investor Services) which is part of RARR. There, charge free, information about the region and legal procedures is provided.
Similar institutions function in other cities of the region. Among them Przemyśl, Mielec, and Bieszczady Agency of Regional Development (Agencja Rozwoju Regionalnego). Investors may also turn to Chamber of Commerce (Izba Gopodarcza), e.g. in Krosno or Stalowa Wola.