Service centre launched in the Podpolanie region
On 1 February, the inauguration of the first regional Service Centre in Slovakia took place in Detva.
The Service Centre for the Podpolanie Microregion is a non-profit organisation which provides free, transparent and effective coordination of financial assistance from EU and SR funds for municipalities and cities in the Podpolanie region. The Service Centre, which is supported by €480 000 from the Norway Grants, will provide assistance, information services, and preparation and implementation of rural development projects.
The opening of the Service Centre is the result of a long-term cooperation between the association Friends of the Earth-CEPA, all municipalities of the Podpolanie microregion and many partners, including the West Wales European Centre, the Banska Bystrica self-governing region, the Podpolanie Civil Association, the Czech Education Centre for NGOs and the Czech Centre for Community Work.
The new Service Centre will help Slovak municipalities use EU funds in an efficient manner. In rural and less developed regions, municipalities lack coordinated approach in the preparation of projects – different municipalities prepare identical projects, thus competing for limited funding.
This lack of coordination results in funding preparation of proposals which do not fit into community development strategies. Preparing project proposals and the necessary documentation is often very expensive, especially if provided by commercial companies. Small municipalities with limited budgets do not have the resources available to fund project preparation, and civil servants often do not have the sufficient capacity to assist in preparation of projects.
The Service Centre is built on the model of the West Wales European Centre and will provide much-needed professional services for municipalities. "We believe the new model will improve rural region's access to public resources," said Juraj Zamkovský, Programme Director of the Friends of the Earth-CEPA.