Energy lab in Oak Ridge powers Tennessee economy

Department of Energy complex generates $5.6 billion economic impact

Thomas Zacharia, Oak Ridge National Laboratory director, speaks to entrepreneurs and others Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, during Zacharia's visit to the Innovation District at the Edney Building in Chattanooga, Tenn. Zacharia became the Oak Ridge Lab director July 1.

The U.S. Department of Energy is helping to power the economy of Tennessee, especially in East Tennessee, with more than 34,000 jobs supported by DOE's Oak Ridge Reservation, a new study shows.

The once-secret city of Oak Ridge that helped make the world's first atomic bomb during World War II has grown over the past 75 years to become America's biggest non-defense research laboratory, one of the world's biggest producers and recyclers of nuclear weapons and a major environmental cleanup site. Last year, DOE allocated $3.4 billion to its Oak Ridge facilities, employing 12,618 workers at the site through DOE and its contractors.

A new economic analysis of fiscal 2017 spending by the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton estimates the spinoff and support jobs related to the Oak Ridge complex generated another 21,878 jobs in Tennessee.