- President, Cagliari-Oristano Chamber of Commerce
The forced coexistence of entrepreneurial activities with the pandemic and the recovery of economic growth after the earthquake caused by the lockdown require a new approach, different from the traditional one and used until March 2020, when the Covid-19 epidemic redefined the usual lifestyles of the entire planet. So, this is the right opportunity to rethink an economic development model that is based on fundamental strategic principles, such as inclusiveness, sustainability, sharing, and synergy between public and private; in order to follow precise guidelines: innovation, technological development, ecological transition, enhancement of the environmental and cultural heritage, transition between school, university and work.
On these elements, the Cagliari-Oristano Chamber of Commerce, established on 1 December 2020 following the unification between the Chamber of Cagliari and the Chamber of Oristano, set up the development program for the period 2021-2026. A strategic plan intended to design the economic development of the territory with a clear vision, based on a jointly agreed method shared with all the stakeholders of the Chamber. The agreement aims to offer functional and efficient services to businesses and citizens, making the area welcoming and attractive for those who already carry out, or intend to start, an entrepreneurial activity.
The territory of Cagliari Oristano Chamber of Commerce covers an area of 10.769.74 km² and occupies the central-southern part of Sardinia, an island in the centre of the Mediterranean. A total of 102.578 companies operate there, mainly in the sectors of commerce, services and tourism and with some particularly active and favorable clusters in the sectors of agriculture, agri-food and innovation technology.
The prospects for a prompt recovery in this area are decidedly optimistic not only due to the support offered by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) and the financial instrument of the NextGeneration EU but also based on some economic indicators.
After a sharp decline recorded in the period 2009-2016, in 2017 the Sardinian economy achieved a slight recovery, with an increase of 1,1% in the gross domestic product (GDP) at constant prices, confirmed in 2018 and 2019, year in which, with + 0,8%, Sardinia was the second region of Italy for GDP growth.
In 2020 the territory suffered a natural slowdown in production activities but only to a limited extent: the added value decreased in Cagliari to a lesser extent (-5,2%) and in Oristano by an amount equal (-7,1%) to that recorded at national level. In Italy, the Metropolitan City of Cagliari ranks 40th nationally for per capita added value, among the first in the whole of the South, with a value of 25.280, 43 euros, slightly above the average in Italy (25.058, 02).
An essential component of the development program defined for the next few years concerns the management and enhancement of strategic assets, the most important of which are the Cagliari exhibition center and Cagliari-Elmas airport, managed by So.G.Aer. S.p.A, a company controlled by the Cagliari-Oristano Chamber of Commerce.
The exhibition complex is an important infrastructure with over 60 years of operation in the field of promotion and enhancement of the Sardinian economy in the various sectors.
An important urban redevelopment program is underway on this structure, located in the center of Cagliari, near the sea and with a size of about ten hectares (of which 27.000 square meters of covered area divided into several pavilions). The redevelopment program aims to guarantee its most efficient use with ambitious and very well-defined purposes.
In particular, the program involves the remodeling of the exhibition spaces, adapted to the most advanced and modern technological and environmental sustainability standards; the creation of a congress center capable of hosting international events; the creation of spaces for sports activities with integration of the offer also through the connection to the facilities in the adjacent areas and with an opening towards the nearby port and pleasure boat services; the creation of an innovation hub to systematize the various public and private players operating in the field of technological innovation.
Therefore, the strategic objectives of the planned redevelopment are not intended only to redesign the waterfront and the skyline of the metropolitan city of Cagliari. They are also strongly oriented towards achieving economic objectives, determined by the desire to locate a modern infrastructure for the benefit of development and cooperation between companies and regional and national economic systems, but with a broader horizon aimed at the entire basin of the Mediterranean.
Cagliari airport, located just 9 kilometers from the city center, the largest in Sardinia, is managed by So.G.Aer. S.p.a, a company in which the Chamber holds over 90% of the capital. The infrastructure is the main access point on the island: in 2019 the airport saw the transit of 4.747.806 passengers in total, who used the vast network of carriers operating there, with an increase of 8,81% compared to the previous year and an average growth of 3,60% over the past ten years.
Despite the heavy restrictions suffered by the transport system due to the pandemic, the updated data as of November 30 2021, show a total traffic of over 2,5 million passengers, with a growing trend.
The airport and its wide range of services contribute significantly to the development of the territory and to the support of the economic and production system, guaranteed by the Chamber of Commerce connection and integration activity with its main players.
The company is constantly committed to supporting the growth of a modern and efficient airport system, with high standards of safety and quality of the provided services, in which carriers and passengers can best meet their needs. The airport, conceived according to innovative criteria that allow to foresee future developments, was built with particular attention to its insertion in the local natural, urban and architectural context. The development and investment plans provide for a strong approach to sustainability and continuous adaptation to the latest technologies.
In 2015 So.G.Aer. S.p.a obtained the OHSAS 18001: 2007 certification for health and safety at work and in 2016 the accreditation under the independent ‘Airport Carbon Accreditation’ program for the progressive reduction of CO 2 emissions in the airport. So.G.Aer. also has ISO 9001: 2015 certification.
In addition to effectively managing the assets, the Chamber operates within the framework of an overall strategy of collaboration with other public bodies, with business organizations and with representatives of freelancers, consumers, and trade unions. The Chambers has then started a discussion to jointly define and implement the actions lead to the transition to a sustainable economic model, respectful of the environment, capable of enhancing the historical and cultural heritage of the island and, at the same time, committed to business digitalization.
In the field of green economy, the Chamber of Commerce has launched a rich program of training and information events on environmental sustainability directed to businesses. Several projects and initiatives in the field of the blue economy, including the business accelerator dedicated to the competitive development of small-scale artisanal fishing companies.
In the field of digital transition, the Chamber of Commerce is part of a national network of Italian Chambers, to support enterprises in a process of digitization and innovation with many services: the dissemination of basic knowledge on 4.0 technology, with the organization of seminars and training courses, the offer of individual assistance and mentoring plans, economic support to small and medium-sized enterprises with specific digital vouchers, the orientation of companies towards more specialized services, such as highly specialized competence centers and Digital Innovation Hub.
All the above without forgetting tourism, a traditional strength of the local economy, thanks to the climate and the extraordinary environmental and natural heritage. In addition to consolidating seaside tourism, the Chamber of Commerce aims to strengthen new segments of this market, such as archaeological tourism (there are countless sites of extraordinary interest in the area) and cultural tourism, for which special agreements have been signed with the Region Sardinia and with other important partners.
More generally, the Zona Franca (Free Zone) of Cagliari and the recent establishment of the Special Economic Zone in the entire island, on 7 December 2021 with a decree of the Italian Government, will ensure advantageous taxation and make the territory of the Cagliari-Oristano Chamber of Commerce particularly attractive for foreign investments.05/04/2022