A town with its central park and wooden benches lined the sidewalk distributed between a church and the town hall. This the best description of Três Rios, in the south of Rio de Janeiro state, almost three years ago. But much has changed. The park is still there, but in front of it, the town hall has erected a symbol of the renewal of the city, a brand new Command and Control Center, all mirrored, connected to 50 cameras throughout the city. A first world thing.
The Nestlé plant was inaugurated on November 18
Três Rios, 104 km from Rio de Janeiro, became a real industrial center which has transformed the landscape and the way of life of its one hundred thousand residents. There are construction work everywhere. All this remodeling is driven by attractive tax incentives on business that the local government began distributing since February 2009. So far 872 companies have changed their address to this inland city of Rio de Janeiro, with 104 industries of medium and large sizes, 92 small businesses and the rest in services and trade. And the flow doesn’t stop. During the week of March 18, they opened the largest factory of Nestle dairy products in Brazil in an area of 95 thousand square meters.
The state government has allowed since 2002, 2% tax rate (VAT) to municipalities. The City of Três Rios decided to go beyond. In the town’s stimulus package are total exemption from property tax for 25 years, exemption from the building works tax, reduction of 2% ISS, facilitation of public power to expropriate areas with housing subsidies, creation of the Development Company tied to the Bureau of Industry and Trade in addition to the easing of bureaucracy of public and private relationships.
The recently opened Nestle factory employs a thousand workers and is expected to propel the resurgence of the dairy industry that the last two decades, was starving. The plant begins with a production of 200,000 liters of milk per day, having a capacity of one million. R$ 200 million were invested to build it nexto to the BR-040, which crosses the city.
“All the support received was essential to choose Três Rios as the host plant. The mayor was the most aggressive, with an odd speed, unusual for our country, to put into practice the recovery of the dairy industry in the region, ” said Ivan Zurita, president of Nestle, during the inauguration.
In front of the dairy factory, on the other side of the highway, Latapac isalready installed to produce aluminum cans. In TTR Glasses, in operation for two years, 70 employees are chiseling 15 thousand square meters of glass per month. The company manager Michael Kalia says he has already plans for expansion.
The Pifer (Rail Interior projects) that came before and is in the city for eight years, attracted by tax incentives (the railroad industry has 0% VAT), keep expanding. Ana Carolina Campos, managing director of the largest industry sector, makes plans for manufacturing seats for the new Maracanã stadiums and other World Cup 2014 stadium. “We bought the machines that cost more than R$ 1 million. We also want to make the inner lining of the BRT vehicles, which will run in Rio de Janeiro”. To do so, just last year they invested R$ 2 million. The revenue, according to her, closed at R$ 18 million.
At the Industrial Condo in a private area of 236 square meters, 35 sheds are occupied for four and a half years now with several factories – from remodelling and manufacture of traing wagons to plastic.
Among the industries that are close to moving to Três Rios is the brewery Serpa. Full of tax benefits, the company, whose sponsor is headquartered in Germany, will invest R$ 220 million in a new plant and provide direct employment generation for 1300. The land for the construction is already defined – an area equivalent to 150 thousand square meters.
The Neobus, the third largest manufacturer of transportation buses in the country, after a long negotiation process, closed with Três Rios. With investments of around R$ 95 million, it is expected to generate 1,500 direct jobs and occupy an area of 70 thousand square meters.
In addition, two new chains are in the process of finalizing projects with the city. The almost non-existent hotel chain in the city is indeed a bottleneck for the local development. This is because there is simply no rooms available in the few hotels in the region.
Small town feeling with it’s friendly people
If the impacts were not enough of over 800 companies in the city, the whole flow of Açu Superport, which is being built by Eike Batista in São João da Barra, will go through there. The mayor says the town has prepared for what would happen to the city after the fall to zero of the tax. At about five years agora Três Rios had increasing homicide rate, transit complicated by its narrow streets and a workforce fully geared to rural work, so far the main economic characteristic of the region.
For the traffic problem and already anticipating its complication, with the increase of the fleet, the first bicycle lane in the city was built and the displacement of the flow of cars away from the center. Classification of labor, municipal schools have been giving technical courses at night, graduating 2500 students per year. Starting in January, the CVT will open (Center for Vocation Technology), with 16 courses for 3600 students per year.
The city’s master plan was also changed. One area is for trade, industry and the third one for residential. We changed the direction of the streets, to hinder the use of cars and force people to walk or use bicycle, ” says the mayor. The plan worked.
But much remains to be done. Três Rios has 11% illiteracy. Even though there are no slums, there are several unpaved streets. Passing through the BR-040, in the stretch of the municipality, a garbage dump is seen with trucks that make use of irregularly. The city says it has already released an amount of R$ 14 million from the state government for the construction of a landfill. The works should start at the beginning of the year.
With the increasing demand for real estate, real estate speculation has skyrocketed in the region. The rent of a two-bedroom apartment goes for not less than R$ 1500 in addition to the condo fees. If overlooking the river in the recently renovated main avenue with new lighting and sport courts, the rent will easily get to R$ 4000. The massage therapist Elizabeth Teixeira has lived for four months in Três Rios. Her husband is head of Human Resources at Nestle. The family came from Salvador. “I was surprised with the good trade, but prices are too high,” she says.
Estimates realize that 80% of employees in the companies are local residents. But just walk around the city to realize that a lot of people are outsiders. And the biggest complaint is the lack of leisure facilities. “It’s a still quiet town, easy to live. But there’s not plenty to do on weekends, ” complains the Rio capital native Aline Lopes, who moved earlier this year to Três Rios accompanied by her husband transferred to a local factory.
There’s only one movie theater and an open theater, a building from the 60s, which has no regular schedule. It remains to ‘trirrienses’(locals of Três Rios) the late afternoon strolls in the central square, with the ice cream seller typical of any country small town. The surroundings are Progresso coaches, a company that operates intercity bus lines, and that for five decades takes the name of what seems to be only now finally arrived to Três Rios, progress.