Fiscal year 2016 has been a good year for TVA and the Valley in the area of economic development. As it has since TVA was founded over 80 years ago, TVA’s Economic Development organization has partnered with state, regional and local partners to drive investment in the Valley by recruiting companies from around the world and by encouraging business expansion. In fiscal year 2016, TVA’s Economic Development team helped to bring $8.3 billion in direct investment in the Valley, creating or retaining more than 72,100 jobs.
We caught up with TVA’s Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley to get his insights on how TVA has worked with its partners to create such an overwhelmingly positive business environment. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: Your team had another great year. How did you do it?
We achieved good solid numbers this year by remaining focused on our target sectors like data centers, automotive and general and advanced manufacturing. Every day we are out in our communities and working with our local economic development partners to identify and capture business opportunities—not just reeling in new business and industry, but helping expansion to happen.
What people outside the region may not realize is that the Valley is really a positive place to do business. With our inexpensive, clean reliable TVA energy and a highly skilled workforce, the Valley is one of the most business-friendly environments in the U.S.
Q: How do the numbers break down?
We never take our foot off the gas, which is why we rack up impressive numbers year after year. The team was able to help recruit or expand the operations for about 250 companies in FY2016. This resulted in attracting and retaining over 72,100 jobs and $8.3 billion in investment. I need to stress that these are real numbers—direct jobs and capital investment.
With numbers like these we were able to boost economic growth across a variety of industrial sectors. For example, with over 300,000 automotive jobs in the Valley, we are the number two region in the United States for automotive manufacturing and we’re ready to leave Detroit in our taillights.
Q: What were some of you biggest wins this year?
Two notable drivers for jobs and investment this year were Google in Clarksville, Tenn., and a significant General Motors expansion in Spring Hill, Tenn. But the truth is, our success this year was made up of win after win after win—many of them smaller or medium-sized businesses, the bread and butter of a solid economy.
We’re gearing up for bigger wins in the future, however. We’ve prepared two new megasites: one near Huntsville, Ala., and the other near Columbus, Miss. We expect that these two uniquely business-positive environments will easily draw in major investment. Along with that, we have our InvestPrep™ program, in which we ready industrial sites for easy sale in targeted markets. This has been incredibly successful, and we expect further success.
Q: Your team earned another prestigious award this year. Tell us about it.
We are very proud of this award. Site Selection magazine recognized our Economic Development team for the eleventh consecutive year as one of the Top 10 utilities in North America for economic development. This is an important industry award because it is presented by our peers who see the positive work we are doing in our region and for the people we serve. I’m pushing the team to keep improving for FY2017. I hope that we can make this an even dozen.
Q: How do the people of the Valley benefit from TVA’s economic development efforts?
The true value of our economic development efforts can’t be measured only in terms of jobs and investment, but by the benefit our work provides to lift up society as a whole. For over 80 years TVA’s mission has been to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley to make life better.
Everything we do is directly tied to that mission—improve the lives of the people of the Valley—by helping build our region into one of the best places in the country to live, work and play, as our CEO Bill Johnson likes to say.
The quality jobs and capital investment that we are able to bring into the Valley shows our extraordinary efforts to enhance our communities and improve the quality of life of the nine million residents in the Valley.