Up to 13,500 new jobs will be created as Freeport East moves into the delivery phase.
The initiative, at Felixstowe and Harwich, received final government approval at the start of the year.
The freeport – one of only eight in the UK – will receive £25m in government funding towards improved infrastructure. It is expected to generate a gross value added (GVA) of £5.5bn over 10 years.
It has three main development sites at the Port of Felixstowe, Harwich International Port and Gateway 14 near Stowmarket
Freeport East will be able to collect and deploy 100% of the business rates growth generated on these sites for the next 25 years, providing millions of pounds of financial backing to invest in regeneration, skills and innovation across the local area.
Work has already started on Gateway 14 and a green energy hub is planned for Harwich to serve sectors including offshore wind. All the developments have an emphasis on innovation, skills development and net zero, as well as acting as anchors for wider economic impact.
Chief Executive Steve Beel said: “This is a major milestone for Freeport East and the result of a great deal of hard work from all our partner organisations. Freeport East is a locally led initiative but has global connections and ambition.
“Bringing together key stakeholders including local government, the private sector, and educational institutions we will attract new investment to create a hotbed for trade, innovation and green energy driving growth in both the regional and national economies.
“We will look to partner and collaborate with all organisations interested in the economic success of the region and encourage parties to get in touch with us directly.”
Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison said: “This Freeport is going to give local economies a massive boost, unlock a new state of the art business space and create tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs.
“We are maximising the opportunities of leaving the European Union to drive growth and throw our doors open to trade with the world.”
Freeport East covers an area within roughly 45 kilometres of the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich, stretching from Woodbridge in the north, to Stowmarket in the west and Jaywick Sands in the south. Colchester and Ipswich are both key parts of the Freeport economic area.
The Universities of Essex and Suffolk, together with a range of other regional partners, have committed to working with Freeport East and its businesses to accelerate innovation across operations, products and services. They will also help unlock further investment in research and development to boost development of the area’s knowledge-based economy.
Gateway 14 makes big step forward
The first road into Gateway 14 has officially opened.
Gateway Boulevard marks completion of the main estate road into the new business, innovation and logistics park from the roundabout on the A120 adjacent to Junction 50 of the A14 in Stowmarket, Suffolk.
Its opening follows on the heels of a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction at a 1.17m sq ft distribution hub for retailer The Range that looks set to create around 1,650 jobs in the area.
The Range’s hub is the first new development across any of the Freeport East sites. Sustainability is a central feature at Gateway 14, with a range of low carbon and net zero energy solutions, walking and cycling routes, green corridors and high-quality landscaping providing a biodiversity boost.