The Scottish government said the £315 million Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal was formally signed on Monday, sealing the deal for the release of funding for a number of ventures.
Regional partners in the deal have estimated that the City-Region Deal funding of £315 million could unlock up to an additional £800 million of investment by the private sector.
“The City-Region Deal sets out the areas where the Scottish Government will commit investment of up to £135 million and the UK Government will commit investment of up to £53.1 million, which, together with £127 million of further investment by the council and partners, will deliver a step change in digital connectivity, digital healthcare, skills, innovation and infrastructure,” the Scottish government said.
“The impact of the deal on Inverness and the wider Highland region will be significant in securing the long term productivity and economic growth of the region and position it as a region of digital opportunity.”
The deal was signed by Highland Council leader Margaret Davidson, Scottish government economy secretary Keith Brown and UK government minister Andrew Dunlop.
Brown said: “The signing of the Inverness City Region Deal shows our clear and strong commitment to investing in Inverness and the wider Highlands region, and the crucial contribution they make to Scotland’s economic growth …
“It’s fantastic to see the first tangible results of Scottish government investment which will help to address the shortage of skills related to science, technology, engineering and maths/digital through the Science Skills Academy.”
Dunlop said: “City Region Deals are a fantastic example of the UK and Scottish governments working together alongside the Highland Council and local partners to improve communities and drive economic growth.”
The heads of terms document for the deal was signed in March 2016, paving the way for business cases to be submitted to the UK and Scottish Governments for approval.
Davidson said: “With the formal signing of the City Region Deal, the business community now have long term certainly over public sector investment and can now make long term investment decisions in Inverness and across the Highlands.
“We have always recognised that it is the private sector that will grow our economy and that our role is to enable and facilitate that growth and this is very much what the City-Region Deal seeks to do.
“The key win for us will be the private sector leverage that will be unlocked which offers significant growth potential for the region.
“I am delighted that we have now secured government approval for the first three business cases worth over £12 million of Government funding — the Science Skills Academy STEMD, University of the Highlands and Islands School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences and Longman Land Remediation.”