No. 4 story of 2017 is Daimler Trucks North America's new proving ground at the Madras Municipal Airport.

HOLLY M. GILL - The new Daimler Trucks North America High Desert Proving Ground opened its doors in May at the Madras Municipal Airport. The $18.7 million facility is the primary testing grounds for Freightliner.No. 4 on the list of top stories for 2017 was the opening of the Daimler Trucks North American High Desert Proving Grounds at the Madras Municipal Airport.

After spending $18.7 million on the facility, which was completed in May, Daimler Trucks North America is preparing an expansion.

"The city of Madras is currently assisting Daimler with their test loop (phase 3) expansion of the High Desert Proving Grounds facility," said Gus Burril, Madras city administrator. "Current efforts are working through the environmental analysis, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, to gather approval to proceed from the Federal Aviation Administration."

The facility replaced the former testing grounds for the company's Freightliner trucks, which was located in South Bend, Indiana.

The High Desert Proving Grounds has a 32,000-square-foot office and shop facility, truck testing facility with a new durability track, fueling station, truck wash bay, test sheds, truck parking and outdoor use areas, all located on 87 acres of property under a long-term lease from the city of Madras.

Although there has been a Freightliner test track at the airport for more than 40 years, Burril said, "Daimler's decision to expand its presence in Madras has been significant on a number of levels. The Federal Aviation Administration encourages airport owners to lease out unused airport properties so as to sustain operational and capital improvement costs to the airport."

"Daimler's lease revenues have grown significantly through their lease of 113.61 acres that bring in $201,998 in annual revenue to the airport," he said. The revenue increase is helping the city with cost sharing for grants on multimillion dollar projects, which have increased from 5 percent to 10 percent.

"In addition, Daimler is employing 40 jobs in the operation of the facility, and they regularly schedule major groups from the Portland headquarters, composed of engineer and executive team members, to conduct business onsite," said Burril, adding that the company's contracting for local services, such as tires and detailing, contributes more than $2 million annually to the community.

"Being chosen by Daimler as the location where they will perform their full-time North America truck testing has been a blessing for Madras."

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