The City of Oak Ridge received a $500,000 contribution from the UT-Battelle Development Corporation (UTBDC) to assist with the planned airport project at East Tennessee Technology Park.
The intent of the contribution is to provide funding to secure state and/or federal grants that require local matching dollars.
Dr. Thomas Zacharia, president and CEO of UT-Battelle and director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Jeff Smith, president of UTBDC, presented the contribution to Oak Ridge City Council at its March 8 meeting.
“I believe the presence of a new airport will be a key differentiator for this community because it supports existing trends so clearly: The airport will make Oak Ridge more attractive to companies and professionals interested in low-cost, high-quality communities with easy access to other cities,” Dr. Zacharia said.
“The planned airport project at East Tennessee Technology Park is an essential component in the future economic growth of the region and an important feature for potential business development,” said Smith. “Many businesses or projects that could be positively impacted by the construction of the airport have ongoing research partnerships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.”
At the City Council meeting, Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch shared his appreciation for the contribution: “I’d like to express sincere thanks to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, its collective commitment to the best interest and promotion of our City, and particularly to Dr. Zacharia and Mr. Smith, for their personal involvement and commitment to our City. This contribution toward the airport can certainly be a true incentive and motivator and help us move toward the finish line.”
If the airport project doesn’t move forward, the funds will be returned to UTBDC.
“The City hopes this will create more national infrastructure opportunities for the City to get this project completed and the overall matching funds will be used to make this project happen,” said Oak Ridge City Manager Dr. Mark Watson. “We appreciate all of the help and support Smith and Dr. Zacharia have given the City and this planned airport project, and we look forward to seeing it through.”
The airport project discussion is now ongoing and centered in the Oak Ridge City Manager’s Office.