Tennessee Valley investment grows: TVA development program helps keep or add 48,000 jobs

Tennessee Valley investment grows: TVA development program helps keep or add 48,000 jobs

November 15th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

New Volkswagen Passats await transport outside of the Chattanooga assembly plant.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

By the numbers

In the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2012, TVA helped attract:

* $5.9 billion - Total business investments

* 48,000 - Number of jobs added or retained across the seven-state region

* $412 million - Business investment in Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Western North Carolina

* 4,450 - Number of jobs added in Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Western North Carolina

The Tennessee Valley Authority helped land $5.9 billion of business investment during the past year, surpassing the previous record set in 2005 before the recent recession.

TVA said most of the 48,000 jobs stemming from those investments weren't new, however.

"Increasingly, we're fighting to retain and keep businesses in the Valley, rather than shutting down and moving elsewhere, so probably 70 percent of those jobs were retained jobs, rather than new jobs to the Valley," said John Bradley, TVA's senior vice president for economic development.

That share reverses the pattern of growth a decade ago when most of jobs TVA's development programs worked on were new jobs from industries building or expanding in TVA's seven-state region.

"We're working much more with existing businesses today to capitalize on the money they are putting in their existing facilities," Bradley said. "During a tough economy, people are looking at consolidations, mergers and acquisitions so we've worked more to help keep businesses in the Valley rather than lose them to other places."

More than 150 companies expanded or located in the TVA region during the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. Since 2005, TVA's economic development program has helped create or sustain more than 300,000 jobs from $32 billion of business investment, including billion-dollar plus investments from Volkswagen and Wacker Chemical in Chattanooga and Charleston, Tenn.

VW and Amazon, which is adding more than 3,000 jobs in Southeast Tennessee, located in a megasite in Chattanooga certified and marketed by TVA through its award-winning megasite program.

Bill Adams, a TVA market specialist, conceived of the idea to create a "catalog of certified sites" with more than 1,000 acres of industrial land ready for a new automobile or other manufacturing plant. The program helped lure Volkswagen to Chattanooga and Toyota to Tupelo, Miss.,

In 2009, TVA also added its Valley Investment Initiative to put money into businesses through lower power rates to businesses that invest in the Valley. Bradley said that program has grown from $40 million the first year to $127 million of TVA funds this year.

"Sometimes, you have to invest money to make money and this program has helped make plants in our region more competitive than sister facilities such companies may have elsewhere," Bradley said.

Among the major projects TVA helped land during fiscal 2012 was the $15 million facility by Mann+Hummel in the former Seymour Tubing Co. in Dunlap. The automotive supplier plans to add 150 jobs in Sequatchie County.