Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Georgia plans to build a city of half a million people on its Black Sea coast to promote business in the region and attract foreign investment.
The project, to be located near the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, will include a modern commercial and trade center as well as a port, presidential spokeswoman Manana Manjgaladze told reporters today in the capital, Tbilisi. Initial investment will total 1.5 billion lari ($900 million), with foreign investors and Georgians living abroad to provide further funds, President Mikheil Saakashvili said Dec. 4.
“We think the main residents will be villagers from the existing area and people who left Georgia and plan to return,” Manjgaladze said.
Georgia is seeking to buoy economic growth, which slowed to 4.7 percent from a year earlier in the second quarter from 5.8 percent in the first. Tbilisi is the nation’s biggest city with a population of more than 1 million.
Construction of the city, to be called Lazica, will start in 2012 and may take 10 years. The first buildings may appear as early as 2013. Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia after a war in the early 1990s that left hundreds of thousands displaced. Georgia considers it as part of its territory.
“These kinds of projects have been done from scratch worldwide, like in Brazil and Australia, and there’s no reason it won’t work here,” Michael Saunders, founder of Saunders Group Engineering and Agriculture, who advises on emerging- market engineering and agriculture projects, said today by phone from Tbilisi. “The Main problem would come down to management and marketing.”
Georgia’s National Investment Agency said this year that as many as 15 foreign companies were interested in taking part in construction of a Black Sea resort at Anaklia, which will include its own airport. Anaklia borders Poti, Georgia’s first free economic zone.
Anaklia is “the deepest natural port” in the Black Sea area and would provide “the shortest way from China to most European destinations,” Saakashvili said in a 2009 interview.
--Editors: Andrew Langley, Balazs Penz
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