Hoče, 10 July (STA) - Magna International, a Canadian-based automotive multinational, inaugurated on Wednesday its paint shop in the north-eastern town of Hoče, its first investment in Slovenia.
Magna Steyr Maribor-Hoče, an almost EUR 150 million investment of the multinational's Austrian firm Magna Steyr, is employing just over 200 workers, while the target by 2022 is slightly over 400.
To accommodate for Magna's arrival in Slovenia, the 2014-2018 Miro Cerar cabinet adopted a special law to accelerate the investment and granted it an incentive.
The 2016 Lex Magna simplified the appropriation of land for a strategic industrial zone in the Hoče-Slivnica municipality on the outskirts of Maribor.
It earned the government the criticism of servility, while several land owners asked the Constitutional Court to review it.
Under the contract on the EUR 18.6-million state subsidy, Magna should invest at least EUR 100 million and hire at least 1,000 workers in Slovenia in a decade.
Nevertheless, Magna Steyr Maribor-Hoče director David Adam said today its future expansion plans would depend primarily on orders.
Magna Europe president Günther Apfalter said they were working hard on new deals, adding the car industry was in a rather unpredictable phase, also due to electric and autonomous vehicles.
The company launched trial production in March, soon after its environmental permit became valid following much give and take with Slovenian environmentalists.
One of the main concerns was that hazardous substances used by Magna Steyer Maribor-Hoče could pollute water in the area.
There was also a lot of opposition against the state allowing an industrial investment on quality agricultural land.
Following the test production launch, but before the company switches to full-fledged production, it has to obtain some more documents.
Today's inauguration was attended by Magna Europe's senior executives and several government officials, who visited the new plant before the inauguration.
Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec expressed hope that the inauguration was just a start of a success story in Hoče, where new jobs would be opened in the future.
He praised his predecessor in office Cerar and Zdravko Počivalšek, the economy minister in Carar and Šarec's governments, for proving it was possible to carry out such a project in Slovenia, although he agreed the country was not very favourably inclined towards foreign investment.
Šarec urged an equal treatment of all investors, foreign and domestic, so that no special laws would have to be adopted like in the the case of Magna's investment.
He stressed he was particularly in favour of investments which bring high value added and follow contemporary trends.
Minister of Economic Development and Technology Počivalšek said the inauguration of the biggest foreign greenfield investment in Slovenia was a special day.
Noting Magna had already asked for an environmental permit for the second and third stages of the project, he said this was a strategic investment signalling the start of a new development of the automotive industry in this region.
The inauguration was also attended by Cerar, now foreign minister, and Slovenia's former Ambassador to Germany Marta Kos, who had received the first call from Magna about its attempt to find a 100,000 sq. metre piece of land in Slovenia.
"A rapid response in this case should be Slovenia's standard in other such projects, since we are often criticised for lengthy procedures," she said.