LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. (WFLA) — It was a historic day in the battle against cancer in Florida, as Moffitt Cancer Center broke ground on its new Pasco County campus.

“This facility,” said Dr. Patrick Hwu. “Which we’ve named ‘Speros,’ meaning ‘help,’ is our largest expansion ever with Moffitt Cancer Center.”

The Moffitt CEO said the location was key to their decision.

“This is the fastest growing place of the state,” Hwu explained. “We already have a third of our employees living in the county, and we think that it’s going to be a resource for the whole state and the whole country.”

The 775-acre campus is named after Agricultural Commissioner and former Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson. In comparison, Moffitt’s original Magnolia campus is only 25 acres. Moffitt says the campus will be more like a medical city — in fact, bigger than the city of Tampa itself.

“The amount of lives that are going to be saved here,” Simpson said. “And the research that’s going to go on here is world-class.”

The campus will have 16 million square feet of lab, office, manufacturing and clinical space over 140 new buildings on site, costing about $1.6 billion.

The project began making its way through the legislature six years ago, planned for 400 or 500 acres. It quickly grew from there, and there’s more room around the campus for more development. Only about 500 acres will be developed — the other 275 will be reserved for environmental conservation.

“Thousands of jobs will be created here, but we will be curing cancer,” Simpson said. “Families will be able to keep their loved ones around a lot longer and enjoy their lives, and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Hwu said the first patients will arrive in about two years, with construction starting later this year and going through 2028 for the first phase.

“A lot happening over the next couple years,” Hwu said. “But I think over the next decade this is going to be one of the most important life sciences parks in the world.”