Highways 6, 9 and 23, flight and rail connections, three-hour train connection to Helsinki, the easternmost international border crossing station of the European Union in Niirala and securing sufficient workforce. These are the main concerns of North Karelia Chamber of Commerce. North Karelia will be successful as long as we do not lower our guard, Managing Director of North Karelia Chamber of Commerce Matti Vuojärvi reasons.

– We have to stay on top of the basics all the time, in addition to doing development work and the creating of something new, Matti Vuojärvi, Managing Director of North Karelia Chamber of Commerce says.

Vuojärvi summarises the role of the Chamber of Commerce in two main points: the first mission is to maintain the strategic success of North Karelia. Secondly, the Chamber of Commerce upholds free competition. Trusteeship requires accuracy, and highway connections are one example of attention to detail.

– Highways 6, 9 and 23 are crucial for us in terms of accessibility. We made a fuss with the neighbouring regions, when the road class of the aforementioned highways was about to drop from one to two. That would have caused losses in investments and maintenance costs.

By joint effort

Regional Council of North Karelia, the municipalities, regional development organisations and the neighbouring regions of Eastern Finland are the strong cooperative network of North Karelia Chamber of Commerce. Joining the forces has produced results in various practical matters. One of the most recent joint efforts is the fast eastern railway. Important to the entire Eastern Finland, he railway line would go from Kouvola to Helsinki via Porvoo, and the railway lines in Savonia and Karelia would be connected in Kouvola.

Highways 6, 9 and 23 are crucial for us in terms of accessibility.

Almost one million residents live in the area affected by the railway line in South Karelia, Southern Savonia, Kainuu, Northern Savonia, North Karelia, as well as the cities of Kouvola and Porvoo.

– We like to believe that the current railway line between Joensuu and Imatra will be improved and the direct line via Porvoo will be built. Kuopio and Joensuu will be within 3 hours’ reach by train. This is not about minutes, but about something a lot bigger, Vuojärvi points out.

Busy border

In 2017, over 1.2 million border crossings took place in Niirala. North Karelia Chamber of Commerce also keeps a close eye on what takes place at the border crossing station located in the municipality of Tohmajärvi.

– Niirala is important to us. Border cooperation takes place with the customs, and border crossing is discussed in regular meetings taking place twice a year. Josek (now Business Joensuu) has been an important operator in this cooperation. We have sorted out various matters with our neighbours through conversation. The goal is to remove unnecessary delays and pitfalls particularly in relation to freight transport.

Something concrete and international

North Karelia Chamber of Commerce has almost 600 member companies. Approximately 140 active representatives of the member companies promote shared interests in the ten committees of the Chamber of Commerce. The committees have various agendas from digitalisation to transport and from industry to internationalisation. The guidance and networks of the Chamber of Commerce reach pretty much all around the globe. At the moment, the B2B Business to Barents project, among others, is under way. It is all about networking and creating new business connections.

– In North Karelia, industrial companies specialising in building are involved. In November, we will travel to a trade fair in Murmansk – we do things in a very concrete way, Vuojärvi states.