Revitalized Towns in Georgia See Leap in Growth
Regional Development Project
March 26, 2014
Lia Alexsishvili remembers when her bakery in the Georgian city of Telavi was only a small grocery store with very few customers, and she was the only employee. Today, her bustling business employs four full-time workers and often hires four additional part-time workers during busy holiday seasons.
“First of all, this used to be an old building, like all the other buildings on the street, but now ninety percent of the buildings have been renovated. We have many visitors now, and the people who live here are very happy,” says Alexsishvili.
The renovated buildings in Telavi - and the ensuing influx of visitors to the area - are some of the results of Georgia’s first regional development project, which is supported by the World Bank.
The renovations will also help in terms of developing small businesses in the city. We expect that renewed sites will increase the number of tourists.
Through infrastructural upgrades to Telavi and other parts of Georgia’s historic Kakheti region, this government-run project is helping to develop a tourism-based economy in the area, while also promoting the area’s cultural heritage.
In addition to the improvements made to Telavi’s historic buildings and cobblestone streets, the development project has upgraded the water supply system, sewage networks, lighting systems, and several city parks in the Kakheti region.
While stimulating tourism, the improvements are also inspiring local residents to undertake further renovations on their own initiative. Lia Alexsishvili, for example, is now converting her building’s upper floor into a bed and breakfast in order to accommodate the rise in the number of tourists.
Another resident, Tornike Tsikhistavi, turned his once derelict building into a café, following the renovation of the structure’s façade by the development project.
The renovation has also helped to create much-needed employment. Valery Talivri, who works at Tsikhistavi’s café, is one of hundreds of local residents who have found jobs as a result of the development project. “The renewal is important because it creates jobs, which is important for young people in order to help their families and pay for studies,” says Talivri.
In addition, private sector investment in the Kakheti region, spurred by the development project’s renovations, has so far reached a total of almost USD 8 million, and is expected to increase.
Kakheti entrepreneur George Piradashvili has opened two hotels that serve locally produced food and he is also starting a winery, all with the hired help of 32 local families.
“They supply us with a rich variety of products that we pay them for, so it’s developing the business,” says Piradashvili, adding that his ventures are attracting a growing number of both national and international tourists to the region – something which he recognizes is good for his business and, by extension, the entire country.
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