East Estonia consists of four very distinct counties: Ida-Viru, Lääne-Viru, Jõgeva, and Järva. The total area of this region is around 12,000 sq km and the population in 2020 was about 252,000. East Estonia is an industry-orientated area with plenty of space available near logistical and natural resources. Timber industry, the manufacture of building materials, energy and metal industry have an essential role to play in the economy of the region.
The region is characterized by low manufacturing setup costs and the presence of supporting industries, highly-developed infrastructure, and a smooth transportation system with inland transport, rail connections, and ports. It is an excellent logistical location for EU-Russia trade and has substantial opportunities for further efficient investments.
Eastern Estonia is a great location for European enterprises who are looking for a nearshoring relationship to bring manufacturing closer to their customers and to make the supply chain more predictable and transparent.
Ida-Viru county is located in the north-eastern part of Estonia. The county contains large deposits of oil shale – the main mineral mined in Estonia that is used in the production of shale oil and in thermal power plants, making the region a center for Chemical and Energy industries.
The region has a long history in industrial development – the Kreenholm textile factory was opened in 1856 and at one point, the company’s cotton spinning, and manufacturing mills were the largest in the world. Besides, oil shale plays an important role in the region and has been mined for over 100 years, paving way for Energy and Chemicals industries in the region.
The capital of the county is the town of Jõhvi; nevertheless, Narva is the largest town in the county in terms of population and at the same time the third-largest city in Estonia after Tallinn and Tartu. Narva is also a Logistics hub, being Estonia’s biggest trade and border-crossing city between the EU and Russia.
There are 2 university colleges, Tartu University Narva College and TalTech Virumaa College in Kohtla-Järve; and two major institutions of vocational education in the region. In 2021 several well-known entrepreneurs in Estonia had opened a coding school in Jõhvi. The school helps to reduce the growing demand for software developers in Estonia while making the eastern region a desirable place to study and offering more opportunities for cooperation with academia.
Ida-Viru County Industrial Areas Development Foundation (IVIA) is a development organisation created by the public sector that is developing five industrial and business parks in Ida-Viru county, being the owner of the property with supporting infrastructure. The list of IVIA’s parks includes the Baltic Chemical Park that features Plug & Play concept for chemical production. The goal of IVIA is to attract and support new industrial and logistic companies and create new workplaces.
The main port in the region – Port of Sillamäe – is located in the North-East of Estonia, 25 km from the border between the European Union and Russia and is open and navigable all year round. The most widely used option for cooperation is to transport all types of export, import or transit cargoes through the port, using the services of operating terminals and a railway station there. Another option is to set up a factory in the industrial park located in the port for cargo processing (terminal, distribution center, etc.), development of on-site production (plant), or provision of services related to activities of the port or/and its partners.
To increase the economic and entrepreneurial activity of Ida-Viru county with the help of new investments, state aid in the maximum amount of € 990,000 is being introduced. The purpose of the aid is to contribute in the region to the creation of new jobs with a higher-than-average salary in the manufacturing industry.
Just Transition Fund – allocation of € 340M from the European Union creates new possibilities for economic development in the Ida-Viru region. At the county level, a Just Transition means a restructuring of the CO2-intensive economy. This includes the restructuring of the oil shale sector as well as the diversification of the county’s economic environment, together with the development of employees’ skills and the improvement of the living environment, which ensures regional employment, income retention, and Estonia’s strategic electricity supply. The fund’s grants and subsidies will most likely be available by October 2021.
Lääne-Viru is situated in Northern Estonia, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. The capital of the county is Rakvere – a town of 15 000 people. The economy of Lääne-Viru is characterized by strong brands.
The largest enterprises of Lääne-Viru county operate in the Food and Timber industries, furniture, metals and building materials production. In addition to the county capital and regional business hub Rakvere, other major entrepreneurial regions include the cities of Kunda and Tapa, where several important industries can be found. Industry in these regional centers is supported by Port of Kunda and Tapa Army Base. Large infrastructure projects have a significant impact on the development of industry in the region – especially the Port of Kunda and the development of shipping routes there.
Rakvere, an administrative center of the county is constantly contributing to the economic and cultural development of the region. In the summer of 2020 a new open-air entertainment center with 4,200 seats, spreading on almost 7 hectares and including an amphitheatre, was completed and opened to the public. The unique center can be used for various cultural events, concerts, and leisure purposes and will attract both Estonians and visitors from all over the world.
Jõgeva County is situated in the Eastern part of the country, the county center being the town of Jõgeva. The region is home to large fields and forests, hence the key industries: Food and Timber. Most of Jõgeva’s businesses are SMEs, scattered all over the county. Although traditionally an agricultural region with efficient value chains, the strong tourism sector is also emerging in the area (leisure and sports centers, sporting and cultural events).
Jõgeva, located in a valley with flat slopes, is known as the cold capital of Estonia. On 17 January 1940, the temperature of 43.5 degrees below zero was measured at the Jõgeva weather station, which marks the Estonian frost record.
Jõgeva county is the location of the Estonian Crop Research Institute, which continues the long-established traditions of field crop breeding and agrotechnical research on the environmental-friendly and effective agrotechnology of field crops, but also on plant protection, plant health and fertilization.
In geographical terms, Järva county is situated in the middle of Estonia with two major national highways crossing each other at Mäo – excellent accessibility to all directions of Estonia. There are several industrial parks along these highways. The center of the county is the town of Paide.
Järva county has a large amount of grain and feed fields, and thick forests. The county is known for enterprises engaged in Timber processing and engineering, and timber companies here are prone to innovation and hi-tech/clean-tech production. Thanks to fertile soils, there are also several agricultural enterprises and Food industries in the region. The manufacture of building materials and the metal industry are well-developed as well.
Järva County is located in the very heart of Estonia, so it is no wonder that even the crossroads of Estonian medieval roads is located here. This meaningful place is also home to the Estonian Bicycle Museum in Väätsa with one of the largest bicycle collections in Northern Europe.
The map of East Estonia shows major strategic assets such as transportation hubs, industrial parks and educational institutions of the region. To go into more detail, these websites can be useful when interested in East Estonia:
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