Twelve months ago, we were well into the build of the three business units at Oban, on the outskirts of Tarbert.
The frames were up and watertight, and a group of pupils from Sir E Scott School were inspecting the work going on, on the inside. They were keen to see what each of the trades do, and what tools they use nowadays.
As we entered 2015, we spent time advertising the properties in various trade magazines. We aimed the properties at the craft/food & drink sectors. We had enquiries, but it was always going to be a long shot, finding an existing business willing to relocate to a remote island. Many people fancied the idea of living in Harris, but their business ideas would have struggled to create the new jobs that the project has to deliver. As the year has progressed, we have broadened the selection criteria.
By March 2015, the first of the units was ready for occupancy. March 1st saw The Harris Tweed Company, Grosebay move into Unit 1. Unit 2 saw Fiskmann Ltd move in briefly. Unit 3 was let in September to Buth Bheag Candle Co. In November we secured a new tenant for Unit 2, the well known local business Hotel Hebrides. It plans to start manufacturing a new product shortly.
So, at the end of 2015, we have three rent-paying tenants and three sets of solar panels generating a small income for the Trust. Each of the tenancies will be reviewed at their first anniversary to see if they have delivered the jobs and training that they promised.