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         Shirak Competitiveness Center

    The Shirak Competitiveness Center (SCC) is a “spin-off” of the successful USAID Earthquake Zone Recovery Program (EQZRP). The mission of the Shirak Competitiveness Center is to improve the prosperity of Shirak Marz with a special emphasis on achieving more and better job opportunities for Shirak residents. In addition to these primary activities, the SCC seeks targeted opportunities to market the Shirak region to potential outside investors and on a targeted basis engages in other activities that have a high potential for improving the overall economic and employment environment of Shirak Marz. Since April, 2004, SCC has been engaged in the following activities:

   “Marketing” Shirak to potential tourists and investors within and outside Armenia,    including programs to market land and unfinished construction;
   *Promoting information flow into the region from international organization;
   *Linking potential employees with potential employers;
  *Identifying needs of employers and facilitating training to provide needed skills;
  *Leading projects to promote a quality urban environment in Gyumri.Shirak’s regional    center;
  *Providing a networking hub for active business people and community stakeholders;
  *Working toward a regional economic development strategy for Shirak; and
  *Forging links with other donor- and government- funded programs in Armenia to    maximize the benefits to Shirak region residents, NGOs and businesses.
     The SCC has gradually developed a reputation as the destination of choice for local business people, NGO leaders, and ordinary citizens for information about business services, loan and grant programs, information on training and other personal development opportunities, etc. It has also become frequent stopping point for visits by international donors and their contractors/ grantees, who have used the SCC to help them understand issues facing the region, find appropriate contacts, or to disseminate information about their programs. The SCC Web site, www.shirakinfo.am, has received visitors from forty-one countries. Visitors download maps, brochures, data on property for sale, and other information about the marz.Its popularity is reflected in its high rating on Google and other search engines.