Construction work on a major new academic and business park in Inverness is due to begin early in the new year.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has appointed construction, infrastructure and design company Morgan Sindall to develop 100 acres of land at Beechwood as the first phase of its ambitious Inverness Campus project.
The £12.3 million contract was awarded following an international procurement exercise and will be delivered over eighteen months. The development includes roads, drainage, landscaping, public spaces and other infrastructure
As well as providing an outstanding environment for students at Inverness College UHI, the developers expect to attract a wide range of other users, including the Scottish Agricultural College.
The site has been planned as an ideal location for supporting research, high quality businesses, a new hotel, and sports and community facilities for local people and visitors to enjoy.
An economic impact study has concluded that, when all three planned phases of the project are completed, it could support up to 6,000 jobs and generate £38m a year for the Highlands and Islands economy.
Ruaraidh MacNeil, Inverness Campus Project Director with HIE said: "Highlands and Islands Enterprise has been planning this project for several years now and it will be wonderful to see construction getting under way."
Mr MacNeil has also promised to continue to work with local residents around the location and is open to ideas that contribute to the overall aims of the project.
"HIE has always been keen to let people know what our plans were. It's important to us to design Inverness Campus as a good neighbour and offer a range of high quality facilities for the existing communities around the site," he said.
"Over the coming months, we plan to keep that dialogue going with the community."
Neil Duncan, area director of Morgan Sindall said: "This is an enormously significant project for the Highlands and Islands and we're pleased to be working together with HIE to deliver the new Inverness Campus.
"With an office based in Inverness, we will look to employ local subcontractors wherever possible which will continue to support the economy of the area. This project alone could create up to 250 employment opportunities. Morgan Sindall has a breadth of knowledge and experience in infrastructure projects and we're delighted to be able to use these skills to deliver this key development."