The news that the UKs first Freeports in Teesside, Plymouth and Solent, are now fully up and running is welcome and positive news for the economy.
The Teesside Freeport, which now has official sign-off, will receive up to £25million seed funding and potentially tens of millions of pounds in locally retained business rates to upgrade local infrastructure and stimulate regeneration.
Peter Snaith, partner head of Womble Bond Dickinson's Teesside practice and head of the national manufacturing sector team, said: "This week’s announcement is a very positive step forward for economic growth in our region.
"At a time when there are such limited funds to support investment, it makes good sense to focus on initiatives which deliver benefits in as many ways as possible, and as quickly as possible, for the local and national economy.
"Freeports will play a key role in creating tens of thousands of jobs, and driving economic growth and regeneration, with billions of pounds in investment, so I’m delighted to see that these projects now have the consistent backing and policy they needed to be able to progress.
"We are already starting to see how Freeports are attracting manufacturers and other inward investors to the sites, showcasing the benefits and potential the tax and customs sites can deliver.
"The news this week should only accelerate this progress and bring a much-needed boost to international trade and skills."
Alongside the economic benefits, Freeports are already providing the hotbed that can support the homegrown technologies for secure sources of renewable energy and carbon capture and storage. In doing so, the government is backing 'clean power' initiatives which are crucial for a sustainable modern economy.
The scale of the Teesside Freeport is of such enormous scale that the positive effects will be enjoyed deep into the surrounding hinterland, which are now denied access to the support that was proposed for wider investment zones.
To bring this all to fruition, we must come together as a business community and regional community to back this project and help to accelerate the plans to build skills and deliver real economic impact for the North East.