DOE's impact on Tennessee economy totals $5.6 billion in fiscal year 2017

The Department of Energy's impact on Tennessee totaled $5.6 billion last fiscal year, according to a new study by the East Tennessee Economic Council.

The council is a nonprofit that works to support the Oak Ridge federal reservation and the government's missions there. To create the report, a Booz Allen Hamilton economist studied the effects of DOE's investment in Tennessee during fiscal year 2017.

The report examines job creation, state GDP growth, private-sector procurements, payroll and pension disbursement, state and local tax contributions, and community development conferred on the state by DOE, including ripple effects of the spending.

During the fiscal year, spending by DOE and its contractors increased the state gross domestic product by about $3.4 billion.

"What’s clear is that DOE’s presence in Tennessee, now in its 75th year, is much weightier than the sum of its parts," ETEC president Jim Campbell said. "For each job created and dollar paid by DOE, multiple jobs, and additional tax revenue are generated in the state."

DOE generated $2.2 billion in total personal income through more than 34,000 jobs that DOE supports across 50 counties in the state.

More than 12,000 of those jobs are working directly for DOE and its contractors. Almost 22,000 came about indirectly from DOE's investment in the region.

The federal reservation's quickly evolving facilities require flocks of skilled laborers. Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge has begun constructing the $6.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility, which is the largest construction project in the history of the state.

Its construction alone will create an estimated 2,000 jobs. Construction of the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has required dozens of multi-year jobs.

Of the approximately $1.1 billion in DOE's non-payroll spending, more than $943 million went toward Tennessee businesses for procuring raw materials, services and supplies from the private sector. DOE also generated more than $32 million in state and local taxes, which help the City of Oak Ridge to support DOE missions and fund city schools.

“This report confirms that the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation is critical to the state’s economic success,” Campbell said. “The men and women who work in Oak Ridge deploy science and engineering innovation to make Tennesseans’ quality of life better, our planet healthier and our nation safer.”

Beyond the billions in economic gain, the report found DOE has made substantial investments in the community.

The Energy Department and its contractors donated more than $2.4 million last year in charitable contributions that include education, economic development, health care and community impact projects.

DOE facilities in Oak Ridge attract thousands of visitors each year. The council expects the number to grow when tourists begin to visit the recently announced Manhattan Project National Historical Park and History Museum commemorating Oak Ridge’s role in ending World War II.

Nearly 2,300 patents and licenses — 127 of which were secured last year — have come out of Oak Ridge through DOE research.

State-of-the-art research facilities enable scientists and technicians to conduct transformative research in East Tennessee.

"These assets cement Tennessee’s stature in scientific leadership," Campbell wrote. "Leading firms and experts in energy, nuclear technology, advanced manufacturing, computing and artificial intelligence are drawn to the region to partner with expertise found in Oak Ridge."

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Brittany Crocker

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit

Published May 25, 2018