Source: DOE EM | Newsletter | December 15, 2016
Community leaders and area economic development officials joined DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee (CROET) on Dec. 8 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of an innovative program designed to attract new industries and jobs to a former uranium enrichment complex.
Oak Ridge’s reindustrialization program launched in 1996 as a first-of-a-kind DOE program intended to bring new jobs and economic opportunities. Watch a video about the program here.
“The past 20 years have been an incredible journey,” said EM Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Sue Cange, who was a member of the task force formed to kick-start the program. “The leadership at the time were trailblazers, and their courage to embrace new approaches, led to significant achievements and has positioned the community for greater success in the future.”
Through the program, DOE has transferred hundreds of acres to CROET and the City of Oak Ridge to create two private-sector industrial parks, the 1,200-acre Heritage Center and the 1,000-acre Horizon Center.
OREM has conducted significant cleanup across the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), which includes the Heritage Center, with the goal of completing its work there in 2020. The reindustrialization program transfers properties after OREM removes old, contaminated buildings and cleans parcels.
This approach led to 20 companies moving to the Heritage Center, accounting for more than 200 private-sector jobs. As ETTP cleanup advances, larger tracts of land are available for commercial use.
The land transfers have paid significant dividends. DOE has avoided $110 million in costs associated with overseeing land, infrastructure and onsite emergency services.
Reasons to be optimistic about the program’s impact continue to grow. LeMond Composites announced recently it would be the newest addition to the Horizon Center. The company has licensed Oak Ridge National Laboratory carbon fiber technology to manufacture a new breed of less expensive carbon fiber bicycles. Its $125 million investment is expected to create more than 240 new jobs over the next five years.
“OREM is cleaning land in a way that makes the site reusable and marketable for the community to begin a new chapter there,” Cange said. “At its heart, Oak Ridge’s reindustrialization program has always been about giving back to the community, and through our cleanup progress and transfers, we are setting the stage for exciting growth in the region.”