Visiting the Chicago area and Niles in particular amid a heavy schedule of ceremonies, Mayor Richard Scigala of Tarnow, Poland has used the opportunity to promote business in his country – and perhaps give a lesson in small-business creation to the heart of capitalism.
In an interview at Niles Village Hall Tuesday morning, Scigala, whose city has 120,000 residents, told how government aids embryonic businesses. In Poland, as in the United States, small businesses are the top engines of job growth.
“There’s been a huge transition over the last 20 years, not only by leaps and bounds,” Scigala said through interpreter Chris Hanusiak, a Niles village trustee who also served as his guide through tours of the Niles Family Fitness Center and Senior Center, prior to meetings at village hall and an appearance at the village board meeting Tuesday night.
“They’re even more progressive now than the United States in helping them grow. They promote and set money aside for the businesses as start-ups, and also for education. They help them get them started. They have to be educated enough to know what they’re doing. So they help with that process.
“The biggest thing is for young people coming in. It’s their first time doing something like that, so they’re very progressive with young people to get them going, so they’re not looking out for big corporations to help them.”
Scigala said Poland handles joblessness differently.
“The unemployment rate is below 9 percent,” he said. “Everyone respects their jobs and their positions. In America, you see what the impact is. In Poland, you don’t physically see it on the street. The government steps in and actually helps the people, and quells the issues by helping with startups. They’re proactive with the situation.”
Individual municipalities like Tarnow cannot use tax revenues for any purpose.
“They are not allowed as the city of Tarnow as a taxing body to tax for any purpose,” Scigala said. “The reason Poland has grown is they became part of the EU (European Union). The funding has come through the EU. They’re not allowed to tax.”
Scigala endorsed Niles’ fitness center and senior center.
“The biggest thing that impresses me are the social services the village and the park district offer,” he said. “ During the day, there’s a safe and secure area for them to go and many activities.
“They (Tarnow) have soccer fields, but they don’t have a golf course. Closest one is 60 miles away. There’s a mix of private and public (activities) for senior activities. They have memberships for these activities.”
Scigala appeared at Sunday ceremonies honoring the late artist Wojciech Seweryn, born in Tarnow. Seweryn designed the Katyn Massacre Monument at the entrance to St. Adalbert Cemetery in Niles He died in the Smolensk, Russia air crash that took the lives of 95 others, including the president of Poland.