İzmir’s AA+ rating better than the government’s

İzmir’s AA+ rating better than the government’s

İzmir lost to Dubai by a wide margin in its bid to hosit the Expo 2020. However, having lost twice in its Expo ambitions, İzmir is now preparing to open the biggest fair complex in Europe.

Because İzmir has always been managed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), it has never been on good terms with the government.

Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu from the CHP and his team are given a hard time by the government at every opportunity. As a matter of fact, a court case in which 130 people from his team are being tried on corruption claims is currently ongoing. 

A group of journalists got together with the İzmir mayor the other evening in Istanbul to discuss his city’s economic vision.

The city has no debt to the central budget. When you come to think that the total amount of debt of municipalities to the central budget is 13.6 billion Turkish Liras, and that Ankara is one of the biggest debtors, this is an important aspect for a city that the government treats like a step child.

The municipality uses its own resources or takes loans from international markets to build infrastructure, including rail systems and biological sewage treatment systems. The İzmir municipality has invested more than the central government for the past 12 years. According to the mayor, International Rating Agency Fitch has increased İzmir’s rating to AA+.

If we go back to the fair topic, İzmir is the city where the sector of fairs was born and developed in Turkey.

In my childhood, I remember my parents visiting the İzmir International Fair and coming back with “innovative gifts” that none of my friends had.

I visited the Zeki Müren exhibition at Beyoğlu’s Yapı Kredi Art Gallery recently and I realized how important this more than 80-year-old fair was for artists and the cabaret/club culture. A singer in the 1970s had to take the stage at the İzmir fair first and win the hearts of the audience before stepping foot into the music world.

While this famous İzmir fair is becoming more of an art and culture activities fair, there are 30 other fairs organized in the city. Among them, the International Marble and the İF Wedding Fashion fairs stand out.

The ninth Wedding Fashion Fair will be held between Feb. 4 and 7 this year. Famous fashion designer Atıl Kutoğlu is supporting the fair. His first fashion show of the year will be held in İzmir.

According to Kocaoğlu, İzmir is the wedding dress capital of Turkey.

“40 percent of the wedding dress sector is in İzmir. People from all over Turkey come to İzmir to buy a wedding dress and a groom suit,” he said.

The İF Wedding Fashion fair attracts buyers from 70 countries, including European, North African, Middle Eastern and even Far Eastern countries. Business deals worth more than $300 million are completed during the fair.

According to Kocaoğlu, the star of İzmir will truly shine when the biggest fair complex in Europe begins to function.

With 240,000 square meters of space in the city’s Gaziemir district, this new fair complex was built with the total cost of 600 million liras. It will open its doors in March with the Marble Fair.

It is nice that cities have big dreams and ambitions.