Performance trends for smart growth in the rural territories of Latvia
Latvia University of Agriculture, Faculty of Economics and Social Development, Svetes str.9, LV-3001, Jelgava, Latvia
Any country is interested in economic growth regardless of its development level in the given period; yet an increasingly important role in defining growth is played by the term smart growth. The EU development strategy until 2020 defines smart growth as a strategic objective. For this reason, economic performance trends towards smart growth and smart specialisation have become an urgent task in project No.5.2.3 ‘Rural and Regional Development Processes and Opportunities in Latvia in the Context of Knowledge Economy’ in National Research Programme 5.2. ‘Economic Transformation, Smart Growth, Governance and Legal Framework for the State and Society for Sustainable Development – a New Approach to the Creation of a Sustainable Learning Community: EKOSOC-LV’.
The research performed by the authors gives an insight into the socio-economic performance trends towards smart growth in Latvia’s regions and municipalities in particular, which are typical local administrative units in the country. The research used statistic data of the LURSOFT, Central Statistical Bureau and RDIM (Regional Development Indicator Module) databases for the period 2009–2013, examining the acquired information and performing horizontal and vertical analyses and data grouping, in order to identify the accumulation of positive/innovative changes. For a detailed examination of the mentioned phenomena, Zemgale region was selected as the territory in Latvia with an average development level. The research led to the conclusion that an increase of the proportion of knowledge-based goods (produced by high-tech and medium high-tech enterprises) and knowledge-intensive services in the overall increase of output in Zemgale region was greater than an increase in the total number of enterprises. The growth was observed both in ‘accessible’ territories and in ‘remote’ territories at different population decline rates etc. The latter allows considering that smart growth is determined not only by objective circumstances but also by local authorities, the activity of various public organisations and the readiness of residents to act under the guidance of the mentioned formations. It has to be taken into consideration when working on a territorial development strategy and achieving the objectives set in the strategy.