The Tennessee Valley Authority is expanding a program that helps communities market themselves as environmentally sustainable. Thirteen local municipalities in the TVA service area already are designated as Valley Sustainable Communities and another 13 are ready to begin the review process.
TVA’s Economic Development team created the Valley Sustainable Communities program in response to more corporations indicating interest in locations where there is an ongoing commitment to sustainable practices.
“The goal of the program is to work with communities across the region to help them be ready to compete when economic growth opportunities occur,” said TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley.
“Since corporate executives are reporting sustainability is an increasingly important site location factor, this innovative program demonstrates a community’s commitment to both economic growth and a healthy environment,” he said.
The communities that apply for the program go through an in-depth process led by an independent consultant, Boyette Strategic Advisors. The program provides a framework and structure to help communities document, develop and implement sustainability initiatives. The effort also supports TVA’s commitments to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.
Communities that complete the process can receive one of three designations; Platinum, Gold or Silver, depending on the programs and initiatives in place.
In 2013, five communities achieved Platinum, showing a significant commitment to sustainability - Chattanooga/Hamilton County, Tenn.; Germantown, Tenn.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Nashville/Davidson County, Tenn.; and Oak Ridge, Tenn. Four communities were named as Gold for taking a leadership role in sustainability efforts – Cookeville, Tenn.; Franklin, Tenn.; Oxford/Lafayette County, Miss.; and Washington County, Tenn. Four communities were recognized as Silver for their initiatives – Athens/McMinn County, Tenn.; Lewisburg, Tenn.; Roane County, Tenn.; and Wayne County, Tenn.
The communities that are beginning the process in 2014 are:
- Blount County, Tenn.
- Crossville/Cumberland County, Tenn.
- Florence, Ala.
- Glasgow, Ky.
- Huntsville, Ala.
- Logan County, Ky.
- Maury County, Tenn.
- Memphis/Shelby County, Tenn.
- Morristown/Hamblen County, Tenn.
- Murfreesboro, Tenn.
- Scottsboro, Ala.
- Starkville, Miss.
- Tupelo, Miss.
Mr. Bradley said sustainability is another word for “business-friendly.”
“Economic development organizations at the local, regional, and state levels must be prepared to demonstrate the role sustainability plays in their areas as they work with existing and new companies,” he said.
Through the program, communities receive tools they can use in marketing and outreach to site selection consultants and potential businesses, including a catalogued inventory of sustainable assets.