Masuria, thanks to its lack of heavy industry and thus unspoiled natural environment, has always been associated with successful seasonal recreation. These same advantages encourage people to move here and take advantage of the legendary Masurian quality of life for people who very often work remotely from a home office anyway. Why not one with a view of the lake?
The Land of the Great Masurian Lakes is an attractive region for investors associated with smart specializations, such as water economics or healthy food production - and, by extension, also for architects who design in harmony with nature and value high quality of life.
Wojciech Malajkat, a well-known and well-liked actor who comes from the heart of Masuria, was the face of the campaign, which ran on television, radio, in the press and on the Internet. Representatives of the professions were targeted by one of eight video spots
To whom the most nature?
"Masuria is often said to be a natural wonder. It is one of the few regions where the landscape has largely retained its pristine character." - says chairman of the Great Masurian Lakes Association 2020 and mayor of Mikolajki, Piotr Jakubowski.
Mazurians regard the unique natural conditions, forests, clean water and air as a natural resource that helps any business - including remote ones. The legendary Masurian quality of life includes the ease of combining work and leisure.
"You can make money anywhere, but only in our country can you focus on yourself and relax immediately after work. We don't spend our free time in traffic jams." - adds Ruciane-Nida Mayor Piotr Felinski. "Here, all you have to do is cross the threshold of your home or leave the office." - he continues.
Three-fourths of the municipality's area is covered by forests, and more than 40% of its area is encompassed by the Mazurian Landscape Park.
The situation is similar in other municipalities of the Land of the Great Masurian Lakes, as concern for nature unites all its residents.
"Miłki's main asset is clean air and beautiful nature, and it is our duty to preserve these qualities." - says Barbara Mazurczyk, head of the Miłki municipality, in an interview with the campaign. "We focus on sustainable development, creating favorable conditions mainly for small and medium-sized companies." - she adds
And this statement is the best guarantee for preserving the unique character of the Land of the Great Mazurian Lakes in the future, which wants to develop - but on its own terms.
Real people, real stories
"We are not running away from the gains of globalization," says Mazurian officials. - Mazurian officials say, "when it comes to world standards, new technologies, the comfort of living for residents, or an interesting recreational offer, we don't want to diverge from Europe. But never at the expense of landscape or cultural heritage. In Masuria, infrastructure is not seen in contradiction to nature, its development is to be a consistent element of the Masurian landscape. As a result, investments in it add their contribution to the legendary Masurian quality of life."
A balanced and sensible approach to modern Masuria is conducive to attracting serious investors. These, in turn, need professional service from the very beginning, already at the stage of planning how to take full advantage of the advantages of the place they have chosen for their investment. The Land of the Great Masurian Lakes needs architects who live and create locally, who understand the space in which they live and work. This is where they have a chance to use their knowledge and talent creatively.
Karolina Czupryniak of the Chiliart architectural studio from Giżycko
© Great Masurian Lakes Association 2020
"Reference to the landscape and cultural context is important to us. We try to create objects in such a way that they complement the space, not compete with it." - says Karolina Czupryniak of the Chiliart architectural studio from Giżycko, "The locations of our projects are usually places of exceptional landscape, which makes our work strongly responsible," she adds.
Architects from the Chiliart studio collaborate on local urban plans, designing apartment buildings, houses, villas, interiors, restaurants and service buildings. It's hard to imagine today's Mikolajki without the famous Restaurant on the Water according to their design, which looks as if it has always been there.
"Feeling this space gives a lot of motivation and creative energy. The surroundings and environment of Masuria are an inspiration that cannot be found anywhere else." - adds the co-founder of the studio, whose designs successfully fit into the local landscape.
She has never regretted the decision to move to Masuria with her life partner, with whom she co-founded Chiliart, as it was a professional and private hit. All thanks to the famous Masurian quality of life.
Masurian way of life
"I grew up in Gdynia," - Karolina Czupryniak said in one of the interviews we conducted during the campaign. "In my life I feel the need for contact with water, and of course Masuria has given me this pleasure, but also more - open spaces, wonderful nature all around, and an unusual atmosphere of villages and places where time stops. It was from getting to know just such Masuria that my love for the place began." - he adds.
Many times during conversations with local entrepreneurs we heard similar stories. Bente Pedersen-Luczkow for the Masurian lakes gave up her high position in a multinational company.
"I came to Masuria to relax and simply fell in love with the place. It may sound cliché, but it was the beauty of Masuria that made me give up corporate life." - says the founder of Stranda, Masuria's most famous marina.
The view outside the window of the Masurian house changes with the seasons, remaining attractive even in winter. Active outdoor activities are encouraged not only by the lake, which is often a few minutes' walk away, but also by dozens of kilometers of forest bike paths, which in winter turn into cross-country ski trails. Sails don't disappear from the frozen lake either, because where if not on its empty surface can you accelerate a buoy to tens of kilometers per hour? Gourmets of fresh fish, on the other hand, don't have to wait until summer - ice fishing is thriving here.
"In the beginning it was not easy for me. But now I'm looking forward to winter and walking through the boundless 'ice desert' that forms on the frozen surface of the lakes," - Karolina Czupryniak says of her experience of moving from Gdynia to Giżycko.
Quality of life in Masuria
Great Masurian Lakes Association 2020
The lakes are already online
However, man does not live by nature alone, because the country's unique natural assets are no substitute for the opportunity to lead an active lifestyle to which residents of larger cities are accustomed. The two "digital" generations - Y and Z - will make up three-quarters of the world's workforce in five years. The younger they are, the more obvious it is for them to stay online at all times and the more willing they are to work remotely.
This is confirmed by last year's Kantar TNS survey: as many as 95% of those with remote work experience rate it positively. For the youngest representatives of freelancers, it is stationary work that is less productive; they want to decide for themselves where and how long they will work. They also don't mind freely combining work with leisure - and this is exceptionally easy in Masuria. Thanks to the province's high-speed backbone network, Mazurian Internet providers offer fiber-optic connections at the same speed as in larger cities. And what if you need to meet with a client or employer in person? This is as possible as anywhere, because Masuria is not as far from larger cities as one would think. From Mragowo to Olsztyn, the capital of the province, is only 60 kilometers. From Ruciane-Nida to Warsaw - about two hundred, and from Ryn to Gdansk only 60 more.
In the very center of Gi¿ycko, next to the pier, an investment worth more than 70 million zlotys (of which 40 million zlotys comes from EU funds) called Water World has recently begun, the main part of which will be the Sailor's Settlement, with a Recreation and Education Center using VR technology. Robert Lewandowski is a co-investor in the project. One of the facilities of Wodny Świat will be another Masurian restaurant on the water, designed, of course, by experts in the local landscape - Karolina Czupryniak and Mikołaj Nowakowski of the Chiliart architectural studio.
Culinary, by the way, has always been a strong asset of the Land of the Great Lakes. For the past 13 years, Mikolajki has invited to the Mazurian Fish Festival "Rybka na zdrowie". - an all-day event with culinary demonstrations, tastings, and workshops led by well-known regional chefs and celebrity chefs. Of course, all dishes are prepared from fresh Masurian fish.
Well-known local seasonal events, such as the Mazurian Cabaret Night in Mragowo, have been around for years, but of course this is not all that Masuria offers to those seeking entertainment or opportunities for active leisure. Several even tens of kilometers of bicycle routes will soon be complemented by the Mazurian Bicycle Loop - an over 300-kilometer route surrounding the entire Great Masurian Lakes, connected to the north with the pan-European Green Velo trail. Architecturally uniform viewpoints, shelters and permanent service areas for cyclists will be built along its entire length. Certainly, there will be no shortage of work for architects (including landscape architects).
Orzysz, which is quiet by day, in turn has something for the most active. As part of the annual Military Picnic attended by NATO units stationed in the area, one of the toughest off-road runs in Poland - the Tiger Run- takes place here. Up to several hundred runners take part in it at the same time, on routes with several levels of difficulty.
Quality of life in Masuria
© Great Masurian Lakes Association 2020
Quality of life issue
A freelance representative will certainly be helped by the diversity of the Land of the Great Masurian Lakes in deciding to change to a better, or "Masurian," lifestyle. Not everyone likes the tourist hustle and bustle of the high season or the proximity of hotels with several hundred rooms that do not empty all year round. Artists, architects or online service providers looking for tranquility and contact with nature have plenty to choose from, just turn their attention to our three outlying neighbors: the municipalities of Pisz, Miłki and the aforementioned Orzysz.
Nearly half of the area of Pisz municipality - the largest municipality in Poland in terms of area - is woodland, and another nearly 20% is water, including most of Lake Śniardwy. Right next door is Orzysz - with a similar, almost 40% forest cover, which effectively promotes itself with the brand "Orzysz - the military capital of Poland." To the north, Orzysz borders the commune of Miłki, one of the least populated in Poland - it is inhabited by less than 4,000 people, and 2/3 of its area is farmland. When asked if she lacks large hotels in the commune, the mayor of Miłki - Barbara Mazurczyk - denies this, while making it clear in which direction the commune should develop:
"We think it could be a processing industry related to agriculture and the production of healthy food." - he says.
Out of the way, however, does not mean remote - all three municipalities lie on the Great Mazurian Lakes route. It's easy to sail from them to Gizycko, the entertaining Mikolajki or the legendary Sztynort - one of Poland's largest inland ports, accommodating 600 yachts. As an aside, Sztynort port has also recently been taken over by a large investor, who, after selling the King Cross shopping center in Poznan, decided to invest here. After taking over the port, he intends to develop it by renovating the entire infrastructure, and very much emphasizes that they are keen on preserving the unique historical fabric of the place. Importantly, the investor is aware that revitalizing the existing buildings will cost him much more than investing in new development. However, that's not all - the Mazurian navigable route is about 111 kilometers long, leading not only through large lakes - thanks to channels and picturesque passes also through smaller ones, including those included in the quiet zone. Here everyone will find a suitable place to relax - the Masurian quality of life is said by everyone living here.
"Morning coffee in the studio overlooking Lake Niegocin is unmatchable!" - says Karolina Czupryniak.
Restaurant on the water at night, Mikolajki
© Great Masurian Lakes Association 2020
How do you get started in Masuria?
For example, from the portal www.mazurytobiznes.pl, where you can find always up-to-date investment offers of the municipalities of the Great Masurian Lakes Region and information about all the opportunities for support at the regional and local level. There are also collected in one place all addresses, phone numbers and emails that an entrepreneur, that is, also any representative of the freelance profession, may need.
It's also worth checking out EU grant opportunities.
"In the beginning, every support counted - we received it from EU funds, from programs run by the District Labor Office." - Karolina Czupryniak of Chiliart recalls the beginnings of the business in Masuria. "We received important support at that time for hiring and training employees."
The municipalities of the Land of the Great Masurian Lakes are also home to the Warmia-Mazury Special Economic Zone, which provides the highest tax breaks in the country for those creating new jobs. Micro-companies here will receive up to 70% PIT / CIT tax exemptions. In turn, experts of the Mazurian Investor and Exporter Service System, working with the Polish Investment and Trade Agency S.A., chambers of commerce and foreign trade offices, will help in international contacts.
A favorable business climate is not just a marketing slogan in Mazury. Local entrepreneurs here say a lot about the benevolent approach of local governments facilitating business in Masuria.
"Personally, I have to mention the very good cooperation with the authorities of the municipality and the city of Gizycko and their cordiality. When it comes to concessions, one of them is, for example, exemption from property tax for three years." - Stranda Marina owner Bente Pedersen-Luczkow adds.
Worth working together
The Great Mazurian Lakes Association 2020, which brings together more than a dozen municipalities in the area, is active throughout the year. It is currently working on a strategy of activities for the next few years. There are many recently started investments in water infrastructure to be completed, or the expansion of the Mazurian Bicycle Loop and the activation of businesses that will provide services to those using it.
Masuria is making good use of its opportunity, especially since the authorities of the local municipalities understand that mutual competition for investment like an unnecessary myth.
"After all, the new companies that will be established in Ruciane-Nida can give jobs to people from neighboring municipalities," says its mayor Piotr Felinski. "In turn, investment in their place will attract visitors to us as well, because we really have something to boast about." - he adds.
The effects of joint activities and investments are so visible that another of the Mazurian municipalities, Piecki and Sorkwity, will soon join the Association.
"Competing among ourselves can only weaken us," he says. - adds Mikolajki Mayor Piotr Jakubowski, "we don't waste time arguing about which of the Mazurian cities is the sailing capital of Poland - it's important that together, as the hosts of Masuria, we create a competitive proposal."
Source: the Great Mazurian Lakes Association 2020
The Great Mazurian L akes Association 2020
brings together 11 local governments from the KWJM area: the City of Giżycko Commune, Giżycko Commune, Miłki Commune, Orzysz Commune, Ruciane-Nida Commune, Mikołajki Commune, City of Mrągowo Commune, Mrągowo Commune, Ryn Commune, Węgorzewo Commune and Pisz Commune under the project "7 Wonders of Mazury - economic promotion of the Great Mazurian Lakes area.