Two Government ministers today took part in a turf-cutting ceremony to mark the latest development at Beacon Park, part of the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft (New Anglia) Enterprise Zone.

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Local Growth Minister Kris Hopkins and Communities and Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, were joined at the ceremony by Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and Mark Goodall, a New Anglia board member.

The enterprise zone, one of 24 around the country, offers a range of incentives to potential investors and has already attracted nine companies, creating 270 jobs. New Anglia and its partners aim to create 1,500 jobs and secure £20million of investment within the zone by 2015.

The visit by the ministers coincided with an announcement that one of the zone’s resident companies, Great Yarmouth-based Venko Offshore, has secured a £5m contract to expand its local operation to maintain offshore gas platforms in the North Sea for a world-leading company, securing work for nearly 20 local Venko staff.

The Dutch-owned company, an international specialist within the energy sector, moved to the enterprise zone in August last year to set up its first UK base after securing a major five-year contract with ONEgas that will create up to 100 jobs in the area.

Venko Offshore Ltd chose the Great Yarmouth site because of the enterprise zone benefits which include rates relief, simplified planning processes and superfast broadband.

Jason Grey, operational support manager at Venko Offshore Ltd, said: “We are very excited to have won this major contract. Although the work is based in the Humberside area, the materials and logistics are all supplied from Great Yarmouth. We have expanded our local workforce to handle the project and been able to retain a number of operational staff as well.

“Moving to the Enterprise Zone is proving to be a solid investment for Venko; it is the perfect base for our UK operation and is enabling us to grow and take advantage of the considerable opportunities in oil and gas on a site specifically designed to meet the needs of energy-related companies. It means we are in a good position to tender for and win these large UK-based contracts.”

Kris Hopkins said: “The Venko deal is great news for the enterprise zone and the local community. Enterprise zones are part of our long term economic plan to rebalance the economy, attract new private sector investment, and bring skills training and jobs to new parts of the country.

“It was inspiring to see so much construction underway and to meet the business and apprentices that are helping the Enterprise Zone to grow and become a centre of excellence for offshore energy.”

Brandon Lewis added: “The Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft ports have been leaders in offshore energy for 45 years. As a minister and local MP I am delighted that the Enterprise Zone is helping to bring more companies and jobs to the area.

“We want to help them further, and that’s why we extended Enterprise Zone’s tax discounts so businesses can continue to grow and create more local jobs.”

Mark Pendlington, who hosted the Ministers’ visit today, said: “There is no doubt that as the East of England continues to recover from the challenges of the downturn, the work of New Anglia LEP in partnership with local firms big and small is establishing our economy as a centre for global talent and business excellence.

“In the last few weeks we have made a clarion call to Government via our Strategic Economic Plan that will release our potential, seize the many opportunities for growth and create new jobs and build skills for the future.

“Therefore the visit of Kris Hopkins MP and Brandon Lewis MP to the enterprise zone, and to meet local firms, is an encouragement to our commitment to release the potential in Norfolk and Suffolk. We are proud to show Government Ministers the success that is being delivered now and for the future.

“Venko is a hard working, innovative company which is an example of the real difference being made by investment in the Enterprise Zone. Congratulations to the Venko team and all who have so successfully put growth at the heart of the company’s ambitions.”

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