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Wirtschaftsbund, Österreichischer, ÖWB - Wittmann, Franz, Möbelwerkstätten GmbH (2/25)
Wirtschaftsbund, Österreichischer, ÖWB Wirtschaftsförderungsinstitut Österreich, WIFI


Economic Development comprises the totality of measures and institutions intended to strengthen the economic independence of businesses, and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to enhance their efficiency and promote their competitiveness at home and abroad, and to facilitate their access to independent activity. It seeks to further and improve the technical and intellectual capacities of entrepreneurs and their staff and to develop and enhance the material bases and capabilities of the enterprises concerned. Economic development can be achieved by direct measures, such as individual management counselling, and by indirect action, such as through modification of income tax legislation.

In Austria, economic development can be ultimately traced back to the ideas of Mercantilism; from the time of Maria Theresia to the days of Franz Joseph I, rulers called able craftsmen and tradesmen to Austria, promoted new enterprises by granting them privileges and subsidies and protected domestic companies by trade and customs legislation.

From 1892 onwards the Ministry of Trade had a special division for the promotion of small businesses; in 1895 a "technical service for the promotion of small crafts and trades" was established, and after 1900 local trade promotion services were founded in the capital cities of the various provinces. The "Technical Service" was transformed into a "Trade Promotion Authority" in 1908. About the same time the "Emperor Franz Josef Jubilee Fund" founded the first workshop estate in Vienna. During the First Republic, economic development for the most part shifted to the trade promotion institutions of the federal provinces, most of which had by that time established close links with the Chambers of Commerce. The Chambers of Commerce Act of 1946 stipulated that each provincial chamber and the Federal Economic Chamber (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich) was to establish an Institute of Economic Development, which was to cover all aspects of economic activity. This enabled the legally established interest group of entrepreneurs to assume responsibility, including financial responsibility, for important aspects of economic development; the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs or the Federal Ministry of Trade subsidises these activities.

After the First World War, the Law on Tax Privileges of 1920, which was enacted to permit major investments in the interest of the national economy, paved the way for a gradual revival and expansion of economic development; in 1926, investors were generally granted tax privileges.

The US European Recovery Program (ERP Fund) of 1948 also offered economic assistance to Austria; from 1949 onwards, the proceeds from the sale of US deliveries were predominantly used for low-interest long-term investment loans, particularly for industrial projects. In 1961 the USA and Austria concluded a Counterpart Agreement under which ERP management was entrusted to the Austrian government, which was to establish a special fund endowed with legal personality that was to be administered independently of the Austrian budget. The relevant legislation (ERP Fund Act) was passed in 1962.

At the end of 1954 the Federal Ministry for Trade and Reconstruction, the forerunner of today's Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs, approved the articles of association of the Bürgschaftsfonds (trust fund) der Kleingewerbekreditaktion der Bundesministerium für Handel und Wiederaufbau Ges. m. b. H., which was subsequently renamed Bürges-Förderungsbank Ges. m. b. H. The aim of the company was to administer credit schemes for small industry

Under a law passed in 1982, the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs has to report at two-year intervals to the National Council on "the situation of small and medium-sized enterprises", which has, de facto, become the government's biennial Economic Report.

The European Union contributes to the economic development of individual regions by such means as the European Regional Development Fund. The largest amounts for regional development go to the province of Burgenland, which constitutes a Target-1 Region. Under EU law government subsidies are only permissible for environmental protection, regional development and research and cultural activities.

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