There have been 24 enterprise zones established since the current scheme began in 2012, and the programme is likely to expand further after the UK government announced at the Budget that any Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) could bid to set up a zone in their local area.
James Wharton, the government's minister for local growth, described the latest figures as a "significant milestone".
"This is a testament to the hard work of local people making the most of opportunities the zones bring for attracting firms," he said.
"We are seeing enterprise zones across the country create thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of investment, boosting the local and national economy … Britain is a great place to do business and there is much untapped potential local areas can build on, to make the most of their unique benefits, which is why more areas and businesses will be able to benefit from the support in a new wave of zones," he said.
The English enterprise zone programme was announced as part of the 2011 Budget, and the first site opened in April 2012. The Welsh and Scottish governments have since established similar programmes, with seven and four such areas respectively. Enterprise zones feature tax, planning and other benefits that other areas do not, which are often geared towards specific industries. Local authorities are also able to retain 100% of the business rates generated within their own zones over a five-year period.
According to the latest figures, 540 firms operating across a range of industries including automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical and renewable energy firms have now set up in an English enterprise zone. The zones have also been popular with local colleges looking to set up facilities and training opportunities to fill local skills gaps, and have benefited over 2,000 trainees and apprentices to date, the government said.
Among the most successful enterprise zones are the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, which has attracted 2,000 jobs to date and is expected to have employed 4,000 people by 2017; and the Tees Valley Enterprise Zone, which has generated over £750 million of private sector investment across its 12 sites, the government said. The Tees Valley site is now home to leading global companies including Air Products and Lotte Chemicals, while the Bristol Temple Quarter zone has created new jobs across a range of industrial and creative fields.
The government is hoping to encourage more areas outside of the "core cities" to apply to create an enterprise zone as part of its new funding round, particularly smaller towns. The deadline for bids is 18 September 2015.