In First-of-its-Kind Funding Partnership, DOD Commits $80 Million to Relocate JBLM “Clear Zone” Businesses

In First-of-its-Kind Funding Partnership, DOD Commits $80 Million to Relocate JBLM “Clear Zone” Businesses

The City of Lakewood, Wash., near Tacoma, announced last week that DOD will fund up to $80 million over 50 years to relocate city businesses in a danger zone near Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), according to a city news post.

The funding, part of a partnership with the state and DOD to relocate businesses near JBLM’s McChord Field runway, will move 21 businesses ranging from auto shops to manufacturers at risk in the installation’s “clear zone” if a plane crashed nearby, according to the post.

It is the first time DOD will commit funds for a joint base to resolve encroachment issues like JBLM’s clear zone area, which comprises more 206 acres and is located within both JBLM and Lakewood, the news post said.

“This is a major milestone in our longstanding efforts to address public safety, urban encroachment and the facilitation of future missions for McChord Field,” said Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson. “The city of Lakewood is pleased to have taken a leadership role in working with our federal partners to insure the continued viability of Joint Base Lewis-McChord,” he added.

Federal officials have determined that within 3,000 feet from a runway’s end has higher crash probability and have ordered “clear zones” to be development-free, Tacoma’s The News Tribune reported.

The cost-share agreement includes $50 million from DOD over the next 10 years with an option for 10-year extensions up to FY 2069. The city will work with the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership (SSMCP) to tap funding sources to meet the cost-share requirement, including other federal and state funds.

The shared funds will allow Lakewood and SSMCP to reach out to property owners who are willing and interested in selling their sites and relocating in the city, according to the Lakewood news post.

Tactical Tailor is in JBLM’s clear zone and hopes to sell its building to Lakewood before the end of this year. The business contracts with JBLM and would be first to accept DOD’s funding, The News Tribune said.

“A lot of companies could kick and scream about it, but it’s inevitable so we worked with the city,” CEO Casey Ingels told The News Tribune. “The area is important. It’s a family company. We have deep roots. Our greatest fear is that we would move away from base, so we are only looking at Lakewood.”

Lakewood wants businesses and will help with relocation. With $2.5 million from Washington and $80 million from DOD, a city team will help locate new properties, pay fair value for properties, and demolish clear zone buildings, the report said.

“It takes time and hand-holding and we are willing to do whatever the business needs,” said Becky Newton, Lakewood’s economic development manager. “Our priority is business retention.”

Image source: City of Lakewood, Wash.

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