OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — The managing company of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, UT-Battelle, has contributed $500,000 to the city of Oak Ridge for the proposed airport project at East Tennessee Technology Park.

UT-Battelle Development Corporation says the intent of this contribution is to provide funding and secure state and/or federal grants that require local matching dollars.

This contribution was presented to the Oak Ridge City Council on March 8 by Thomas Zacharia, President and CEO of UT-Battelle and director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Jeff Smith, President of UTBDC.

“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,” Thomas Zacharia said.

Something to note, if the airport project doesn’t move forward, the funds will be returned to UTBDC.

“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,” Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said in the city council meeting. “This contribution toward the airport can certainly be a true incentive and motivator and help us move toward the finish line.”

The discussion on the airport project is now being had in the Oak Ridge City Manager’s Office.