Sectoral Opportunities

Colchester’s economic growth will stem from these sectors… 

Colchester’s Creative Heart 

A Creative & Digital Hub

Colchester has a large thriving community of skilled creative businesses, yet at the same time it holds a wealth of cultural and creative heritage influenced by a historic association with print and design which has long appealed to creatives. Colchester is poised to take advantage of its geographical and economic position in relation to the Creative and Digital Industries.

  • The recent NESTA/Creative England report puts Colchester on the national map for its creative cluster, ranking the town 20th out of 47 places in the UK, beating Brighton and Newcastle… read more
  • Around 6,587 people are employed within Colchester’s creative industries representing 5.7% of all employment.
  • With an average of 7 people in each firm in more than 865 business units, Colchester is the largest creative Economy in Essex and the wider Haven Gateway area.
  • The sector spans advertising, architecture, art, antiques, computer games, crafts, dance, design, fashion, film, music, museums, theatre, publishing, software, television & the radio. The GVA of the creative and digital industries in Colchester was £332.5m in 2016, 7.5% of the total GVA.

Projects recently completed or in development include: 

  • New £2.6m Creative Business Centre at 37 Queen Street operated by SPACE Studios.
  • New Curzon Cinema opening in 2018
  • £9m extension and refurbishment of the Mercury theatre. 

Ultra Fast Broadband 

Some 900 business in Colchester Town Centre will shortly benefit from the Council’s work with the private sector as one of the leading smaller, independent fibre network operators, County Broadband takes on the management of Colchester’s Town Centre network. 

Capital Investment taking place in the sector


  • £9m extension and refurbishment of The Mercury Theatre starts 2018
  • New multi-million £ Curzon Cinema opening 2018
  • Gigabit Ultafast fibre Broadband installed in the town centre 2017
  • £2.6m new creative business centre in Queen Street opened in 2016 operated by SPACE Studios
  • £4.2m refurbishment and redisplay of Colchester Castle Museum 2014.  Home to a Nationally Designated collection of Roman glass
  • £25m Firstsite visual art gallery opened in 2011
  • £12m new Innovation Centre at the University of Essex opening 2018

A cluster for Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering

Advanced Manufacturing

Colchester has a strong presence of advanced manufacturing businesses, building on its engineering and industrial heritage. 

Identified as a Priority Sector for growth, Advanced Manufacturing is the integration of technology based systems and processes in the production of products to the highest level of quality and in compliance with industry specific standards. 

Using the OECD classification of manufacturing based on technology, Colchester’s cluster contains 65 firms (1.0% of all businesses) employing 1,200 people (1.5% of all employees) but is estimated to contribute as much as 10% of the local economy’s GVA. 

Most enterprises are micro and small (up to 49 employees) and in specialised sub-sectors such as acoustic engineering, process control equipment, special purpose machinery and much else. 


New Hotels Realising Colchester’s Tourism Potential

Colchester is fast becoming the place to visit in the East of England. Over the past five years new hotels have added more than 180 rooms to the town’s hotel base which equates to more than 65,700 additional room nights a year. 

These new developments have also brought an additional 100 full time equivalent jobs to the town and with further projects in the pipeline, the future for Colchester’s tourism looks bright. 

At-A-Glance: Sector Profile

There are few destinations, especially in the East of England Region, which have had such tourism growth over recent years. The investments taking place and the annual tourism statistics demonstrate the ambition and the intention to sustain and grow visitor activity.

  • The value of pure visitor spend to Colchester Borough has risen by 317% from £63.1 million in 1993 (base year) to £263.2 million in 2016.
  • There was an additional £82.1 million generated by tourism in local businesses supplying tourism businesses with goods and services (the multiplier effect).
  • Making a total value of tourism to Colchester Borough in 2016 £345.3 million, a 3% rise on 2015.
  • Colchester attracted over 6.3 million trips from visitors in 2016 (up 125% on the 1993 figure of 2.8 million)
  • Tourism supports 6410 actual jobs (up 125% on the 1993 figure of 2,685) and supports more than 700 businesses locally.

Source: Economic Impact of Tourism, Colchester Borough, 2016 (The Cambridge Model). 


Colchester’s New Northern Gateway: A regional Sport and Leisure Destination

Multi-million pound investments have already been spent in North Colchester on the new Junction 28 off the A12.

The area around Weston Homes Community Stadium will fast become a ‘must go’ place with plans for an adventure space for local people and visitors.  

Colchester’s Northern Gateway will be an amazing social place and will promote healthy, active lifestyles and leisure time. It will be the ideal location for family trips and business gatherings alike. 

Beautifully designed modern buildings set in stunning green parkland will house restaurants and cafés. The structures will be built with the latest technologies to ensure that they are as green and as sustainable as possible. 

The Area Around Weston Homes Community Stadium 

Opposite the stadium a David Lloyds Leisure Club will open in Autumn 2016. There will be a new sports centre including a ‘Cyclogym’, badminton courts and high quality café.

Outdoor facilities will include rugby, archery, a dog training club and two new 3G artificial pitches plus much much more. There are also plans for an IMAX cinema. 

It is anticipated that the development will be open from Summer 2019.

Read more in Colchester’s Annual Economic Report 2016/17

Educational Excellence

Colchester has a working age population of 91,800 talented, experienced and educated people.

Locations for Growth

Colchester is one of the fastest growing districts in the country. 

Colchester – Ultra Ready