Viewing cable 05VILNIUS996
Title: MARIJAMPOLE COUNTY: LITHUANIA'S GOOD COUNTRY

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS9962005-09-22 05:23:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000996 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB, EB/CBA 
WARSAW FOR FCS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL ECON PGOV LH
SUBJECT:  MARIJAMPOLE COUNTY: LITHUANIA'S GOOD COUNTRY 
LIVING 
 
¶1. SUMMARY:  Top officials in one of Lithuania's most 
sparsely populated counties told the Ambassador that the 
local economy in Marijampole is doing well.  Unemployment is 
low and skilled labor talented, but a U.S. employer finds it 
hard to fill jobs.  The students in this rural region study 
English with hopes of U.S. travel, study, and employment. 
The county hosts a national military logistics unit, some of 
whose troops have deployed to support allied objectives in 
Iraq and Afghanistan.  Local officials recognize they need 
to attract more investors if they hope to retain their 
current level of prosperity and good, clean, country living. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
¶2. The Ambassador visited the southern city of Marijampole 
on September 13 as part of his continuing outreach program 
to Lithuania's regions.  The Ambassador spoke with local 
television and print media and both local and national press 
carried stories on the visit. 
 
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ECONOMY DOING WELL, BUT EMIGRATION A PROBLEM 
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¶3. Governor Albinas Mitrulevicius of Marijampole County 
(population 168,000) and Mayor Vidmantas Brazys of the City 
of Marijampole (population 48,000) told the Ambassador that 
the region's economy has done well in the years since 
independence.  Unemployment in this mostly rural county of 
only 6.2 percent is significantly less than the national 
average (10.2 percent).  Along Mariampole's clean, tree- 
lined streets were numerous construction sites and signs of 
economic activity.  The governor said that the planned Via 
Baltica motorway, which will connect the three Baltic 
countries and Poland and will run through Marijampole, will 
be an economic boon for the county.  The mayor grumbled a 
bit about the EU, noting that many in this agricultural area 
are disgruntled that farmers in other EU countries like 
Germany receive larger subsidies than they do.  That EU red 
tape hampered the distribution of aid to some victims of 
recent flooding in the region also made local residents 
unhappy.  Both officials noted that emigration is a problem 
and that too many talented Lithuanians from the region have 
left to seek their fortunes elsewhere, especially in Ireland 
and England. 
 
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HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS WANT TO STUDY IN THE U.S.A. 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
¶4. The senior class of a local high school, famous for 
producing some of the country's most renowned linguistic 
scholars, poets, and several of the architects and defenders 
of Lithuania's independence, told the Ambassador of their 
keen interest in the United States.  In exceptional English, 
they asked him about opportunities for Lithuanians to study 
and work in the United States and inquired about American 
students in Lithuania, American university curricula, U.S. 
salaries, and U.S. basketball.  One student asked about 
Hurricane Katrina. 
 
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U.S. QUALITY AUTO PARTS MADE IN MARIJAMPOLE 
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¶5. The Ambassador toured the Marijampole facility of 
Waukegan, Illinois-based Peer Corporation.  The plant both 
forges and machines auto parts, mainly alternator rotors, 
for U.S. and European automobile manufacturers.  Peer 
purchased an existing set of buildings in 1999 and began 
production in 2001 with five employees.  The company has 
invested LTL 17 million (USD 6 million) in the facility and 
has doubled production every year, now employing 80 people. 
Peer's Vice President Leo Algminas told the Ambassador that, 
although the company produces high quality products, a 
recent 30-percent hike in supply costs threatens Peer's 
profits.  Algminas also lamented that Peer's higher-than- 
average wages do not seem to be stopping a region-wide brain- 
drain.  Peer and other employers are already having trouble 
filling job vacancies.  For next year, the company wants to 
triple this year's output of LTL 3.4 million (USD 1.2 
million), but is having difficulty hiring the 15 skilled 
employees it needs to do so. 
 
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LOGISTICS BATTALION: FROM MARIJAMPOLE TO AFGHANISTAN 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
¶6. The Ambassador visited the Grand Duke Vytenis Main 
Support Logistics Battalion in Marijampole.  This unit, 
eight of whose members currently serve in the Lithuanian-led 
Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Ghowr Province, 
Afghanistan, is the logistical backbone of the entire 
Lithuanian military.  The Ambassador commended the soldiers 
for their service to their country and thanked them for 
Lithuania's participation in coalition missions in 
Afghanistan and Iraq.  Touring the base, the Ambassador 
reviewed some of the battalion's capabilities, including its 
portable water-purification system, and the battalion showed 
the Ambassador equipment of the type the PRT is using in 
Afghanistan. 
 
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COMMENT 
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¶7. Many parts of rural Lithuania suffer from obvious poverty 
and neglect, but Marijampole, with its small-town charm and 
apparently healthy economy, does not appear to be share 
those problems.  The area's leaders will have their hands 
full, however, trying to figure out how to keep youth from 
heading toward EU or U.S. jobs.  The officials we spoke with 
seem to believe that the Via Baltica will put Marijampole 
squarely on the EU map and enhance the area's economic 
attractiveness.  It might, however, simply make it easier 
for the county's youth to drive west. 
MULL