Riverview Business Park ponders future without Department of Energy

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Chris Reddin(cq)the Executive Director for the Business Incubator Center ,with the Business Incubator and the old DOE campus in the back ground.Art to go with LeRoy’s story.Sent as BIZ INCUBATOR 10-1 .


• It has helped start more than 200 companies, which have produced more than $137 million in revenue, created 8,982 jobs and created capital investments of $50.6 million.

• It is 75 percent self-financed.

• Additional income is generated through rent, assistance to small business owners, managing DOE property, state grants, support contracts with the city and county, private donations and grants.

— Source: Business Incubator Center

The home of the nonprofit Business Incubator Center faces an uncertain future.

Since 1999, the Business Incubator Center has been housed at the Riverview Business Park, 2591 B 3/4 Road, down the road from the Orchard Mesa Cemetery. The business park is managed by the Riverview Technology Corp., and the Business Incubator Center is considering taking over management of the business park.

The park’s primary source of revenue is rent from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management, which has about 200 employees. That tenant is considering a move.

The Office of Legacy Management was established in 2003 “to provide a long-term, sustainable solution to the legacy of the Cold War,” according to the Energy Department’s Web site. “Legacy Management is responsible for managing activities at sites where DOE’s mission and active environmental cleanup has been completed.”

The Energy Department’s five-year lease expires in September 2012. Already half of DOE’s operations at the business park — its environmental division — have moved off site to another location in Grand Junction.

The only other tenant of the park, besides the Business Incubator Center and several start-up companies that rent space from the center, is Company A of the U.S. Army’s 244th Engineering Battalion.

“As the lease comes to a close, we will do a competitive evaluation as to what is best for the organization,” said Ray Plieness, director of site operations and Grand Junction office manager for the Office of Legacy Management. “As far as staying in Grand Junction, absolutely we plan to stay within Grand Junction.”

The last time the Energy Department’s lease was up for renewal, three years ago, it looked for a new location and found none. This time around, though, the economy could produce a few deals that could lure the Office of Legacy Management away from the business park.

Plieness said the Office of Legacy Management intends to remain in Grand Junction, though perhaps not at the business park.

JG Management Systems did a study to see whether it is feasible for the Business Incubator Center to take over management of the park. The center’s staff continues to look at the possibility, despite the fact it would cost $8.1 million to refurbish all buildings on site, according to the study.

“We are still looking at the option; we don’t know,” said Susan Corle, secretary and treasurer of the center’s board of directors.

The main problem with the site is access. The entrance road cuts through the cemetery and across railroad tracks. The original buildings were built in the 1940s and used for the Manhattan Project.

To address some of the maintenance needs, Riverview Technology recently took out a $1.4 million loan. Chris Reddin, executive director of the Business Incubator Center, said that loan was taken out with an eye toward keeping the Energy Department at the park.

“Riverview Technology Corp. did, per DOE’s request, some major upgrades,” Reddin said. “No one has done anything reckless. It was all well planned out.”

If the Energy Department jumps ship, Reddin said, “We would want to expand the incubator, or about a 50 percent expansion.”

Some of the startup businesses that currently rent from the Incubator would be asked to remain at the business park, she said. Usually, new businesses are allowed up to five years of below-market rent before they are forced to find new homes.

Some of the site’s buildings would be mothballed or demolished, she said.

If the DOE stays? It will be business as usual, she said.

“We are a nonprofit,” Reddin said. “Making DOE happy is totally our goal. ... We are going to do everything we can to keep them.”


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