Oak Ridge Positions Community for Economic Rebound Through Reindustrialization Efforts

Despite tough economic conditions, Oak Ridge has been tremendously successful at continuing its redevelopment efforts and creating one-of-a-kind land and building space that are attractive to a diverse industry base.

CROETDespite tough economic conditions, Oak Ridge has been tremendously successful at continuing its redevelopment efforts and creating one-of-a-kind land and building space that are attractive to a diverse industry base.

The most recent example of these efforts was showcased at the ribbon cutting for the new speculative buildings at East Tennessee Technology Park’s Heritage Center. With a strategic partnership between the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee (CROET), the Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO), the City of Oak Ridge and the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board, the speculative buildings became a reality and set a milestone achievement for the community as it looks toward the future of its economic development.

Now, as the country moves closer to economic recovery, Oak Ridge is steps ahead of other areas as a result of these efforts, with several recent and notable economic development ventures that include:

• To date, the Department of Energy has transferred six buildings at Heritage Center to CROET’s ownership, five of which have been sold to private industry with sales totaling more than $5.5 million. This has resulted in nearly $6.5 million in savings to the government through avoided building demolition costs and provided the City of Oak Ridge with an increase its annual city taxes of more than $61,000.

• East Tennessee Technology Park is home to more than 650 people working at 24 companies utilizing more than 750,000 square feet of office and industrial space that would otherwise be empty.

• The completion of two speculative industrial buildings located at Heritage Center at ETTP. The larger of the two buildings has 50,000 square feet and is expandable to over 100,000 square feet. The other building contains 16,500 square feet. These two new buildings represent more than $2.3 million of investment as part of the mission to convert Heritage Center into an industrial park designed to attract companies engaged in advanced manufacturing and technologies.

• CROET recently handled the redevelopment of various infrastructure systems at ETTP, including the water, wastewater, roads and a short line railroad.

• The economic development team recently made the strategic decision to transfer ETTP’s Horizon Center to the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board to allow for a more focused marketing effort while providing a “one stop shop” for greater speed and efficiency when working with industrial prospects and closing deals.

• The recent sale of the Heritage Railroad, an 11.5 mile short line connecting Heritage Center with the Norfolk Southern Company’s rail system at Blair, Tenn., to EnergySolutions, LLC marked another historic transfer of property to the private sector.

DOE is also building on the successes of reindustrialization through its Energy Parks Initiative, which transitioned DOE lands and buildings to private industry for commercial-scale private sector use. As part of this initiative, DOE established the Oak Ridge Energy Corridor, covering the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley with the axis along the Pellissippi Parkway, to provide an energy-based focus for the region, and bring together the region’s public and private organizations in the form of partnerships. At the 2010 Tennessee Valley Corridor National Technology Summit in Washington D.C., the Oak Ridge Energy Corridor announced its second initiative, the Integrated Electricity Generation Project, which proposes to make the Oak Ridge Reservation net carbon neutral by 2030 with an integrated clean energy power project.

The successes of the reindustrialization program in Oak Ridge are broad and far-reaching, and they are just another example of how Oak Ridge has taken a seemingly impossible situation and created a success story.

Source: AkinsCrisp Public Strategies
Photo: CROET