Karnataka is a globally renowned knowledge hub, home to the largest number of R&D centres, technical and medical institutions, and start-ups in India. A pleasant climate, cosmopolitan culture and investor-friendly business ecosystem make Karnataka one of the most sought-after investment destinations in the country. Moreover, the government’s highly responsive administrative apparatus has been extremely proactive in simplifying and improving the state’s business landscape. Karnataka is geared to attract and absorb new investments across multiple sectors over the coming few years.

On 14th February 2020, the government of Karnataka hosted the Invest Karnataka – Hubballi Conference, the first-ever investors’ meet held in Karnataka outside Bengaluru. Inaugurated by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, the main goal of this meet was to attract investors and reputed companies who could help develop North Karnataka as a leading destination for business investments. Another goal was to collaborate with business leaders, thought leaders, research institutions, think tanks and trade bodies to set a mutually beneficial development agenda for Karnataka over the next 10 years.

Despite the ongoing economic slowdown, the meet received a tremendous response from industrialists all over the country. The event was the result of the combined efforts of three main personalities – Karnataka Industries Minister Mr. Jagdish Shettar, Union Minister Mr. Prahlad Joshi (who is from Hubballi) and the Railway Minister Mr. Suresh Angadi (who is from North Karnataka). Prior to the meet, these gentlemen travelled to Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Guwahati to meet with and invite several investors in person. Due to their combined efforts, the event attracted investors in large numbers. Furthermore, about 50 foreign and domestic firms signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) to invest ₹72,000 crore in the northwest and northern regions of Karnataka, an area with close to 6,000 acres of land that can be effectively harnessed for industrial growth and progress.

The meet kicked off with a discussion on the potential of North Karnataka for industrial growth. The Chief Minister averred that since the government came into power in July 2019, several firms had already come forward to collectively invest ₹1 lakh crore in Karnataka. Noting that Karnataka is rich in both natural and human resources (the latter particularly in high-tech, high-skilled areas), he said that there were plenty of investment opportunities in industries like aerospace, automobiles, machine tools, electric vehicles and biotechnology besides of course, Information Technology.

A Bengaluru-based group with presence in a broad range of sectors from gold mining to oil refineries proposed to invest about ₹50,000 crore for manufacturing electric cars and Lithium Ion batteries for both the domestic and overseas markets. It expects to generate about 10,000 jobs. A power company also signed a pact with the state nodal agency (Udyog Mitra) to set up a solar power plant at Davanagere at a cost of ₹4,800 crore, an endeavour that is expected to generate over 2,000 direct jobs. Many other companies from other sectors have also proposed investments on similar lines.

Railway Minister, Mr. Suresh Angadi announced that Indian Railways would invest Rs. 150,000 crores in Karnataka over the coming years. Out of this, Rs 20,000 crore will be invested in the current calendar year itself. He also announced a slew of new trains along major Karnataka routes, such as Hubballi-Belgaum, Hubballi-Vijaypur, Hubballi-Karwar, etc. to help connect Karnataka’s Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and thus grow its industrial corridors. The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Mr. D. V. Sadananda Gowda announced the formation of CIPET, the Central Institute of Plastic Engineering & Technology in Hubballi. The state government also announced that under the new industrial policy, it will set up industrial clusters to manufacture toys at Koppal, textiles in Ballari, solar equipment at Kalaburagi (formerly Gulbarga) and farm machinery at Bidar.

However, it is just the beginning! Many more potential investors can visit and explore the possibilities of setting up industries in northern Karnataka. Thanks to the commitment and political will of the Government of Karnataka, all clearances to open a new business are expected to be provided within 30 days of applying. As a result, it is becoming easier than ever to do business in the state – making it one of the most attractive investment and business destinations in India.

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