Subject The article discusses the positioning of a provincial region among other regions of Russia, referring to the case of the Mari El Republic. Objectives The study evaluates the position of the Mari El Republic as part of the geoeconomic space of Russia, through the comparative analysis of nature and climate, sectoral structure of the economy, socio-economic development and growth rate. Methods Based on the comparative analysis, I devised my own method involving multidimensional scaling, cluster analysis and analysis of structural differences and relying upon the Ryabtsev index. The correlation analysis is used to study how the dynamics of key sectors influences the economic growth. Results I evaluated the positioning of the Mari El Republic among the Russian regions and grouped those regions which are comparable with the Mari El Republic in terms of sectors with uneven socio-economic development and growth rates. The article presents a map of the region’s positioning and the effect the development of key sectors has on the economic growth in rapidly growing and stagnating regions, which are comparable with the Mari El Republic. Conclusions and Relevance The Mari El Republic is presented as an agri-industrial region demonstrating the low growth potential. The article indicates the regions demonstrating a sustainable and high growth, which are comparable with the Mari El Republic. They could be used for the benchmarking analysis to outline development strategies of the Mari El Republic. Growth in the process manufacturing is what mainly drives the economic development in rapidly growing regions. To ensure the economic growth, the agricultural development is not sufficient as a strategy (animal husbandry, in particular), since it will require substantial investment from the State. As part of the State aid, executive authorities should keep an eye on the shrinking small business and medium-sized and high-tech enterprises. It is important for regional authorities to determine and understand the region’s position as part of their monitoring of the socio-economic situation.
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