In 1955, Wallace Groves, a Virginian financier with lumber interests on the island, was granted 50,000 acres of swamp and scrubland by the Bahamian government with a mandate to economically develop the area. The city of Freeport was built, and has grown to be the second most populous city in The Bahamas, after the capital, Nassau.
The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) operates the free trade zone, under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement signed in August of 1955, whereby the Bahamian Government agreed that businesses in the Freeport area will pay no taxes before 2054. Freeport Harbour is accessible by even the largest vessels, and has a cruise terminal, a trans-shipment/container port, and both a private yacht and ship maintenance facility. Grand Bahama International Airport handles nearly 50,000 flights each year.