The ambitious Borders Innovation Park, situated between the Borders Railway terminus and the Radio Borders building, will see four sites developed initially as part of the first phase.
Work had originally been due to begin in March, but was postponed until this month due to the coronavirus lockdown, in line with the Scottish Government’s roadmap for the return of the construction industry.
The £29million development will aim to deliver high-quality business space, stimulate business growth and improve inward investment opportunities.
As well as predictions that the new park will help create over 380 jobs, it is estimated it will generate gross added value of £350m over 30 years and offer a £16 return for every £1 spent.
The park is being funded by Scottish Borders Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Borders Railway Blueprint programme, as well as a £15m investment secured from the Edinburgh and South East Region City Deal.
It’s a key component of the Tweedbank Masterplan, a transformational prospectus which the council claims has the potential to create over 1,400 jobs across various sectors.
Councillor Mark Rowley, SBC’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “We have experienced one of the most testing periods of time in living memory, with the local economy in the Borders being significantly impacted.
“As a result, seeing a major development such as the Borders Innovation Park now get under way is hugely welcome news.
“The council recognises the potential of the Borders Railway for transforming our area’s economy by bringing new workers, homeowners, businesses and visitors to the region.
“The Borders Innovation Park will aim to capitalise on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at a site right beside the railway.
“We are confident the park will deliver high quality, higher-paid jobs for the Scottish Borders.”
Office space was also made available at the Transport Interchange in Galashiels, which took some time to lease out fully.
Any delay in leasing out space in the new Innovation Park could seriously hit the council’s financial forecasts.
A spokesperson for the council told us: “We are in discussions with a number of organisations regarding the occupation of these first phase sites, with these discussions at various stages.”
The work in phase one and two of the project is being carried out by Ogilvie Construction.
Donald MacDonald, managing director of Ogilvie Construction, said: ”We are delighted to start construction work in line with Scottish Government guidelines.
“We look forward to handing over a first-class facility which is built to the highest standards and will play such a significant role in economic development for the Borders.”
The first phase of the Innovation Park is expected to be completed by August 2021. A third and final phase of the Innovation Park is also scheduled to take place, with revised completion dates for phases two and three being finalised.
Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP, said: “As we look to our economic recovery, we are working with partners, to understand how best to move forward and respond to current circumstances.
“City Region Deals will be crucial to drive growth through projects that deliver significant and lasting benefits for individuals, businesses and communities across the country.
“The Borders Innovation Park is a great example that builds on the huge success of the Borders Railway and I’m delighted to see it progressing.”