The University of Ulster's planned peaceline campus in West Belfast has received a surprise boost from the retail sector.
F A Wellworth, one of Northern Ireland's leading chainstores, has announced its intention to site a superstore on the Springvale campus.
The firm estimates that this will create 400 jobs in an area known as an unemployment blackspot.
But the project is dependent on the Pounds 98 million campus receiving the Government's go-ahead. Effectively F A Wellworth's decision puts extra pressure on the Department for Education to support the project.
Officially, however, the department is still awaiting the results of its own feasibility study into Springvale, which is expected in the next month.
FA Wellworth is owned by the Dublin-based Fitzwilton firm, controlled by Irish millionaire Tony O'Reilly, and employs 4,600 people in 36 stores across Ulster.
The announcement was timed to coincide with the first day of the Washington Investment conference on Northern Ireland, organised by President Bill Clinton in the United States, at which the Springvale project received a second fillip.
In his keynote address US vice president Al Gore described Springvale as "imaginative" and singled it out as an example of the type of scheme that the peace process could encourage in the future.
University of Ulster chiefs have recently warned that the delay in the Government decision could have a knock-on effect in applying for European Union and International Fund for Ireland grants, which could harm the viability of Springvale.