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U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann today called the opening of an Oak Ridge National Laboratory office in Chattanooga "a legacy day" for the city.

"In five, 10 years we'll look back and say what happened when ORNL opened an office," said the Tennessee congressman.

Fleischmann, ORNL Director Thom Mason, Mayor Andy Berke, along with U.S. Department of Energy and University of Tennessee officials, made the official announcement at a regional energy innovation conference in Chattanooga.

The office will go in the downtown headquarters of EPB, with which ORNL researchers already have been working on a limited basis.

Berke said the opening of the office is "great validation of what's happening in the city," noting the ORNL presence will be in Chattanooga's Innovation District.

Mason said a point person from ORNL is expected to be appointed soon to coordinate joint efforts between the Oak Ridge, Tenn.-based national lab and the city's new office.

In addition with work related to EPB's "smart grid," the ORNL office is expected to use the lab's supercomputing activities concerning so-called "big data" as well as efforts in the energy and automotive sectors and technology commercialization.

See Tuesday's Times Free Press for more.

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