LAST week we announced that the Alconbury Airfield will be part of a new generation of Enterprise Zones, offering new start-up businesses a menu of tempting reasons to locate to the Greater Cambridge and Peterborough area and create a business and jobs there.

The Alconbury Airfield Enterprise Zone will strengthen and consolidate the already strong economic growth corridor that runs north to Peterborough and east to Cambridge. It has the potential to develop Alconbury as a hub of globally competitive business clusters in the ICT, advanced manufacturing, science and technology sectors by capitalising on the ideas and innovations of the scientists, academics and entrepreneurs in the area. Rather than losing such innovation to overseas markets, new incubator business units will turn ideas into businesses, will bring in new private sector inward investment, and will create up to 40 new businesses and 1,500 jobs by 2015.

Firms that set up in the Enterprise Zone will get a 100 per cent business rate discount worth up to £275,000. They will benefit from radically simpler planning rules so they can get building without excessive bureaucracy and costs. There will also be Government support to ensure that superfast broadband is rolled out throughout the zone because we want these zones get off to a flying start, and we will support them with initiatives that encourage inward investment.

The competition for Enterprise Zone status was tough with 30 strong bids and only 11 were chosen, including the Alconbury Airfield, which shows you how much promise it has. This is a perfect demonstration of how the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership has brought together leading local business and civic leaders to take a firm grip of the growth challenge.

I want to pay particular tribute to the local MP, Jonathan Djanogly, who fought hard for his area. This partnership is taking the reins of the local economy and Alconbury Airfield is a key part of that plan for growth. It means that your area will keep any proceeds of this new growth for up to 25 years, so you can reinvest that money in further plans for growth.

Our national economy depends on investment in local businesses of all sizes so they grow faster. They are on the frontline of economic recovery. The new generation of 22 Enterprise Zones we are rolling out will help this country become one of the best places in Europe to start and grow a business.

And from today Alconbury Airfield, and the Greater Cambridge and Peterborough area will be at the heart of that drive for national growth.