Today, Governor McAuliffe announced that the City of Newport News and a contractor for the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility have agreed on principles to transfer property needed for a major expansion of the lab. Last week in Washington, the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC) announced its recommendation for construction of a billion dollar Electron Ion Collider. Jefferson Lab is one of two sites vying for the new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facility.
“I applaud Newport News and the lab’s contractor for working out this important agreement. I was glad that my administration could play a role in helping broker an important step toward landing such a big new investment and science facility for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Governor McAuliffe.
The MOU was signed between Newport News City Manager Jim Bourey and Jerry Draayer, President & CEO of SURA, the majority partner of Jefferson Science Associates which manages the lab for DOE. Approximately 16 acres would be deeded to SURA in preparation for EIC construction, half of which is currently owned by the City of Newport News. The other half is occupied by the School Board’s Service Center for Operations & Transportation, which will be relocated to make way for JLab expansion and development of the proposed Tech Center Corporate Research Park.
“We are delighted that all of the parties have gotten together and agree with an excellent path forward to not only provide land for JLab and an ion collider, but for the first of many tech center buildings,” said Newport News City Manager Jim Bourey. “These two projects are integrally tied to the future success if Newport News.”
“This agreement will protect the future growth for Jefferson Lab, and ensure that it continues to be a research magnet for the world,” said SURA’s Chief Public Affairs Officer Greg Kubiak. “As the Lab’s contractor, we are grateful for our strong relationship with the City and the Commonwealth.”
The Governor has supported the lab in preparing for an eventual EIC competition, by putting funds in his budget for the lab to perform preliminary site and project management for the eventual competition. The General Assembly approved $3.95M earlier this year for that purpose.
On Thursday, NSAC, a scientific advisory committee for the National Science Foundation and DOE, made its formal recommendation for the project to be built. It now must be reviewed by DOE with budget planning and development to support the project. In additional to Jefferson Lab, the only other competitor expected would be the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. The EIC would be a nuclear physics research facility providing unique capabilities for the study of Quantum Chromodynamics.
Governor McAuliffe added, “The early estimates show that this project, on top of the current operations at JLab, will add nearly 5,000 jobs in 7 to 10 years. Winning this competition will build on our efforts to build a new Virginia economy not only by generating new economic activity, but also by further establishing Virginia as a center for scientific leadership and a magnet for researchers from around the world.”
The lab currently attracts over 1,300 researchers globally to Newport News, which will grow with operations of an Electron Ion Collider.
Another component of the MOU referenced an additional agreement paving the way for the first building of the Tech Center Corporate Research Park. This private sector investment will “foster additional technology transfer, entrepreneurship, economic diversification, and job creation,” leveraging Jefferson Lab and its “communities of scientists and researchers,” according to the MOU.
Early investments by the Commonwealth were critical to the selection of Virginia as the site for the initial $600M Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility’s (CEBAF) construction. Over the life of the lab, $44M in Virginia investments have leveraged over $3.2B in federal investment in the lab and its research.
Governor McAuliffe concluded, “Back in 1983, when this same committee (NSAC) recommended that Virginia be the site of the new accelerator we know now as Jefferson Lab, it highlighted the commitment of the Commonwealth to support the project. So I pledge to keep planting the seeds that we know will bear great fruit for Virginia and the nation.”