A cornerstone laying ceremony took place in the Technological Industrial Development Zone Skopje 2 initially marking the start of the construction process for a plant by Belgian bus manufacturer “Van Hool”. This investment project is worth 20 million euros and is expected to create 400 to 500 new job positions.

The ceremony was attended by government ministers and by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who underlined that this production facility represents the first large investment by a Belgian company in Macedonia that continues the investment cycle in the country with accelerated dynamics. According to PM Gruevski, the following project with Van Hool, is another successful story from the series of foreign investments in Macedonia, which indicates that the country truly offers favorable business conditions for interested parties.

Congratulating the 65th anniversary of “Van Hool”, PM Gruevski stated that this particular investment will increase the Macedonian export cycle and will improve the trade balance toward the United States and the countries in Western Europe.

The company’s CEO Philip Van Hool stated that the production facility in Macedonia has been the company’s largest strategic investment outside Belgium which subsequently commemorates their 65th anniversary. Mr. Van Hool underlined that the process of reaching a decision to invest in Macedonia was neither quick, nor simple, however the support by the Macedonian government made it much easier for the company to finalize its decision.

“I’ve been asked why our company has chosen to invest in Macedonia, instead in emerging countries such as India or China. Well, Macedonia as well is one of the emerging business centers. It has a history of connecting various worlds – the east and the west including Europe and America today. I’m convinced that this investment project will be successful and that our company can rely not only on the educated and professional workforce from the technical schools and on the excellent local universities but also on the great past experience that this country has in the production of high-quality buses,” said Van Hool.

The new Van Hool production facility will be built on a surface of 36.900 square meters and production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2013. The Belgian investor aims to complete an order of 400 buses for the US market, whereby the first set of 50 buses is expected to be exported from the factory towards the end of 2013. After this order, the company will introduce two new models of buses, and the full capacity scheduled to be reached represents an annual production number of 400 buses.