Freeport in talks with potential investors to create tens of thousands of jobs

East Midlands Freeport says it is in talks number of potential national and international investors as it accelerates its plans to unlock the potential for tens of thousands of new jobs in the region. Launched last year, the Freeport has set up three "tax sites" where there are lower tax rates aimed at speeding up business investment, job creation and economic growth. The three sites cover around 1,300 acres of land - more than twice the size of London's Olympic Park:

o East Midlands Airport Gateway & Industrial Cluster is alongside the UK's largest dedicated express airfreight airport and the rail freight-connected East Midlands Gateway logistics park. o East Midlands Intermodal Park, next to the Toyota manufacturing plant just outside Derby. o Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station site: where owner Uniper wants to transform the site of the UK's last coal-fired power station into a destination for zero carbon technology and energy. The Freeport is looking to secure investment from global investors active in sectors where the East Midlands has established strengths, such as automotive, aerospace, advanced logistics and clean energy.

While it is in only the second year of a 25-year programme, it has now revealed that advanced talks are taking place with potential investors at two of the three sites. Chief executive Tom Newman-Taylor said: "With our partners, we've set ourselves four clear priorities for the year ahead - to get our organisation match-fit for success, build trust with everyone we work with, attract sustainable investment and help our region meet its long-term challenges. "There is already significant interest to invest and expand at the Freeport's three sites and I'm confident that we will be able to make an investment announcement by the end of the year.

Working with private sector partners, local councils and universities, the Freeport says it is also supporting investment in the region's economy by putting some of its own funding into programmes which will raise people's skills and drive research into clean energy technologies that are important to its sites and businesses who might set up in them.

Detailed analysis suggests that the Freeport's sites have the potential to support the creation of tens of thousands of jobs and add around GBP9 bn to the value of the East Midlands economy over the next 25 years. The Freeport says it will also directly reinvest more than GBP1bn in the region from additional taxes that it generates. While the Freeport's team has already been talking to potential investors, it will be raising its profile nationally and internationally at events attended by global businesses from its key sectors.

Newman-Taylor added: "As a Freeport, we're able to offer businesses that meet our criteria some significant incentives that will help them set up faster and accelerate their growth and that of the regional economy. "Our strategy is to seek investment that adds value to the East Midlands. We're looking for businesses who are a good fit with our sites and the regional economy, which has major strengths in sectors like automotive, aerospace, advanced logistics and clean energy.

"Alongside this, we're developing plans to ensure local people have skills that meet the needs of our industries into the future, and we will be placing an increasing emphasis on growth that's sustainable - with direct investment in research that will help our sites and our businesses reduce their environmental impact as they grow." Later this year, it will be joining the University of Nottingham and Loughborough University to mark the opening of a new zero carbon innovation centre that will develop the technologies needed to decarbonise transport industries. Professor Chris Gerada, lead for strategic research and innovation initiatives at the University of Nottingham, said: "Through the Freeport's GBP5.8m investment, our two universities can accelerate the development of zero carbon technologies, attracting global industries and bringing regional economic prosperity.

"Our open-access innovation centre will help power future transport, harnessing the region's strengths to create globally competitive industrial solutions in electrification, hydrogen propulsion and advanced manufacturing."

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