Sliven oblast is characterized by a diverse sectoral and sub-sectoral structure, a good location of the production capacities and a fully developed infrastructure in the industrial zones; these factors create favourable conditions for attracting national and foreign investors and for further development of the oblast economy.
As an old industrial centre, the town of Sliven has traditions in the production of textile and knitwear, food and beverages, machines and equipment. Due to its propitious climate the Sliven oblast has established itself as an important supplier of agricultural production. The conditions are very suitable for growing fruits (especially peaches and cherries), grapes, vegetables, sunflowers, grain crops as well as for the development of stock-breeding.
Territorially the industry and services are best developed in the municipalities of Sliven and Nova Zagora. The agrarian sector also has strong positions there. Agriculture is of greatest significance for the municipalities of Kotel and Tvarditsa. The municipalities of Kotel and Sliven possess the greatest potential for the development of tourism.
The traditions in the textile industry are predetermined by a remarkable event – the building of the first textile factory in Sliven by Dobri Zhelyazkov in 1834, which was also the first industrial enterprise on the Balkan Peninsula. Generally its foundation laid the beginnings of the Bulgarian industry. Nowadays Sliven is one of the influential textile centres in Bulgaria. Some of the leading textile enterprises are headquartered here – such as “Miroglio Bulgaria” Ltd., which is an investment of the Italian concern “Miroglio”. The production of carpets by the famous company “Decotex Carpet” JSC is also of great significance. There are a number of small companies, manufacturing towelling fabrics and products, ladies' and men's socks and garments, etc. whose contribution is very important as well.
The oblast is also famous for its hand-woven carpets with folklore patterns made in Kotel and its neighbouring villages.
The production of food and beverages is the second important industrial sector in Sliven oblast. Wine-production, dairying, production of meat and meat products, production of canned fruits and vegetables are well developed. The major producers and exporters of wine in the oblast are “Domain Boyar”, whose new Sliven–based winery is one of the most technologically advanced in Europe, and “Vini” JSC, which produces high-quality wines and alcoholic drinks. Grain production is presented by the “Melinvest” Holding. An important investment in the dairying sector is the building of the new enterprise for the production of cheese and yellow cheese – the Bulgarian – Greek “Tirbul” company. It will strengthen the position of Sliven oblast which ranks second in the country with regard to the quantity of collected and processed milk. The production of canned fruits and vegetables, which are sold mainly at the markets of Europe, USA, CIS, gives its contribution to the development of the sector. Some of the largest companies for nuts processing and packing are located in Sliven.
The sector of machine-building and production of equipment is represented by several big companies in Sliven and Nova Zagora, which produce universal lathes, drilling machines, wood-processing machines, machine-tools, agricultural machines.
The share of the construction sector in the local industry has been gradually increasing over the last years. This is due to the increased investment activity, the introduction of modern construction technologies, the use of new materials and highly efficient machinery in the residential, industrial and civil construction, in the engineering infrastructure, in the reconstruction, modernization and sanitation of buildings - activities carried out by more than 20 construction companies in the oblast.
The fertile soils and the mild climate of Sliven oblast provide a wide range of opportunities for plant-growing in the region. The arable lands comprise 1 827 000 decares, which is 51,5% of the territory of the oblast; 257 000 decres of the arable lands have irrigation capacities. Plant-growing is of strategic significance for the development of agriculture. It provides products vital for the sustenance of the population as well as major raw materials for the processing companies and for the productive stock-breeding.
Over half of the arable lands in the oblast, mainly in the municipalities of Sliven and Nova Zagora, are used for the cultivation of grain crops. The climatic and soil conditions in the Tundja river valley are most favourable for the cultivation of peaches; that is why there are large areas here planted with peach trees.
Viticulture is a priority sector for the oblast, which is favoured by the soil and climatic conditions and the existence of big wineries and many wine-cellars.
Stock-breeding is the second basic sub-sector of agriculture in the oblast. The good fodder production in the plain part of the oblast – the municipalities of Nova Zagora and Sliven – favours the breeding of cattle and pigs, while the meadows and pastures in the mountainous and hilly parts of the district – the municipalities of Kotel and Tvarditsa – are conducive to the raising of sheep and meat cattle. The top rank of the oblast in the production and processing of milk is the reason to establish the Regional Milk Board of the South-Eastern Planning Region exactly in Sliven.
The largest Market for live cattle in Southern Bulgaria is established on the territory of the Sliven Spa area. National and regional stock-breeding exhibitions, auctions, theoretical and practical conferences, fostering the production of animal products in the oblast are held here. There are good traditions in the field of apiculture. A gene-bank for the preservation of pure genetic material from the Bulgarian honey-bee has been established under a project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The forest areas cover 40 % of the territory of the oblast. The average age of the forests is 58 years as the broad-leaved woods - beech, winter oak and cerris oak, are prevalent (82 %).
Many protected plants and animals that are in danger of extinction can be found in the lands and forests within the forest fund of Sliven oblast. A nature park - 'Sinite Kamani' Nature Park, and four reserves have been set up with the aim of preserving the biodiversity in the oblast. Bulgarian traditions and experience in the field of hunting have long history. In the municipality of Kotel there is a state game-breeding reserve, disposing of a shooting lodge, which is situated in the famous architectural reserve the village of Zheravna.