TVA Economic Development Programs Reel in $5.9B in Investments

The Tennessee Valley Authority claims that its economic development helped stimulate $5.9 billion in business investments in the TVA service area in fiscal year 2012.



John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development, said TVA’s efforts helped recruit or expand more than 150 companies, resulting in the creation and retention of 48,000 jobs.

“Creating jobs, helping local communities, and improving quality of life in the Tennessee Valley is what TVA Economic Development is all about,‚Äù said Bradley. ‚ÄúWe thank our many partners ‚Äî local power companies, industry, state and local officials, and others ‚Äî for helping make these programs so successful.‚Äù

Since 2005, TVA’s economic development programs are credited with helping create or retain 300,000 jobs and $32 billion in business investment.

The state-wise breakup in the TVA service area is as follows:-

-          Alabama : 7,800 jobs and $1.2 billion;

-          Kentucky: 4,800 jobs and $957 million;

-          Middle Tennessee: 11,700 jobs and $1.2 billion;

-          Mississippi: 5,100 jobs and $504 million;

-          Northeast Tennessee and Virginia: 6,300 jobs and $506 million;

-          Southeast Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina: 4,450 jobs and $412 million; and

-          West Tennessee: 8,400 jobs and $1.0 billion

The top business investments and expansions from companies participating in TVA Economic Development programs in 2012 include:-

-           $53.7 million and 800 jobs by Magneti Marelli in Pulaski,TN;

-          $500 million and 200 jobs by Carpenter Technology Corp. in Limestone County, AL;

-          $8 million and 500 jobs by Agero in Clarksville, TN;

-          $9.5 million and 207 jobs by Propulsys in Hopkinsville, KY;

-          $130 million and 150 jobs by Roxul, Inc., in Byhalia, MS; and

-          $15 million and 150 jobs by Mann Hummel in Dunlap, TN.

TVA was named for the seventh straight year to Site Selection magazine’s list of the top 10 utilities in North America for economic development. They also won a Gold Award for the Megasites Program from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for excellence in economic development.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporation owned by the U.S. government, and provides electricity for business customers and distribution utilities that serve 9 million people in seven states. TVA is a non-profit entity and receives no taxpayer funds. TVA provides flood control and land management, and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development. For more information, visit TVAed.com.

IBM Names 2013 Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Winners

IBM (NYSE: IBM) named 31 cities around the world as recipients of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2013.

This is IBM’s single-largest philanthropic initiative, wherein they assign a team of six top IBM experts to each winning city to study a key issue identified by the city’s leadership.

The services provided for free to each city are valued at about $400,000. The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year, 100-city, $50 million competitive grant program.

Seven of the 31 cities chosen by IBM this year are American cities:-

IBM's Stanley Litow with Mayors of Smarter Cities Challenge grant winners

IBM’s Stanley Litow with Mayors of Smarter Cities Challenge grant winners (Courtesy: Feature Photo/IBM.com)

Buffalo, New York

Burlington, Vermont

Fresno, California

Knoxville, Tennessee

Reno, Nevada

Richmond, Virginia

Tucson, Arizona

The winning cities proposed innovative projects and areas of focus for IBM experts. These included strategies that address:·

-¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Economic and Workforce Development — reducing local dependence on a single industry¬∑

-          Social Services Рcreating an ecosystem that supports independent living for a growing senior citizen community·

-          Sustainability Рsetting policies around billing rates, electric vehicle use, and solar power generation on a smart power grid·

-          Capital Budget Planning Рenabling citizens to request expenditures, while also analyzing their potential impact·

-          Urban Planning Рtaking a more systematic, data-driven approach to housing policy, downtown revitalization, zoning, and permits.

“We congratulate the cities selected as IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipients for 2013. This was a difficult decision because so many cities made strong cases to earn our time and talent. But the winners distinguished themselves among their peers by convincingly demonstrating their preparation and willingness to make the kind of improvements that will improve their residents’ quality of life and make their cities even smarter,” said Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, and president of IBM’s Foundation.

Reactions from some of the winners:-

Fresno, California Mayor Ashley Swearengin  - “The City of Fresno is poised and ready to benefit tremendously from the expertise that IBM will provide to our ongoing efforts to deal with our economic challenges. We are pleased to partner with IBM through the Smarter Cities Challenge to help us optimize the use of our limited resources.”

Fresno hopes to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to build a regional cloud for sharing “open data” and modeling tools that will be instrumental for citizen engagement. Fresno will also work with IBM on a plan to deploy ultra-high speed broadband in the Downtown Corridor, which could serve as the underpinning for development of a regional agricultural technology cluster in Fresno.

Knoxville, Tennessee ¬†Mayor Madeline Rogero – “We are thrilled to be selected for this competitive program. It will be invaluable to have the expertise and outside perspective of IBM’s team as we work to make Knoxville a more sustainable city for everyone.”

Knoxville’s application asks IBM for advice on the most effective way to connect weatherization and energy education services to residents who receive emergency utility bill assistance. This will help reduce the demand each year for emergency assistance with utility bills for low-income ratepayers, particularly those in older, inefficient buildings.

Richmond, Virginia Mayor Dwight C. Jones  - “It is an honor to receive the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant as this resource of human capital will prove invaluable in moving Richmond forward as we continue our work of enhancing our economic and workforce development efforts. It is my hope that the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant will help us create an economic development tool that will improve the health of our city through the strengthening of our neighborhoods; an instrument that focuses on the community level to support the attraction and retention of neighborhood businesses.”

This is the third and final year for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants. In the first two years, IBM has completed work in more than 60 cities globally.  For more information, visit smartercitieschallenge.org.

Nike Wants $58M PILOT Deal For $301M Memphis Expansion

Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) is looking for a major expansion of two facilities in Memphis, Tennessee that will require a total investment of $301 million and lead to the creation of 250 jobs, besides safeguarding the existing 1,662 Nike jobs in Memphis and Shelby County.


Photo – Nike Inc.

The Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike plans to invest $276 million for a 1.8 million square foot expansion of its facility in the Northridge Industrial Park.

Another $25 million will be spent on expansion of its Shelby Drive facilities.The $25 million investment will be used for retrofitting and upgrades.

The $276 million investment in their Northridge Industrial Park includes $70 million for land purchase, $131 million for construction, $33 million in “soft costs,” and $109 million for personal property.

The average pay for the 250 new jobs created will be about $42,000, including basic average wages of $35,000 and benefits of about $7,000. In return for the investment and new jobs being created, Nike is asking for $57.8 million payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) deal from Memphis and Shelby County.

The city and county’s Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) that the new project will generate additional tax revenues to the tune of $105.3 million over the 15 year period for which the company is asking for a $57.8 million tax break. During this period, the new Nike project will bring in additional wages to the tune of $174 million.

‚ÄúNike has a significant presence in Memphis and Shelby County ‚Äî as a large employer, a global brand, and a major philanthropic contributor,‚Äù said Reid Dulberger, the EDGE president and CEO. ‚ÄúThe company is currently evaluating its distribution footprint and EDGE, working with our partners, is committed to retaining and growing Nike’s local operations.‚Äù

The EDGE board will be meeting on Oct 17, 2012 to hear Nike’s PILOT application. But as far as the company is concerned, Memphis, Tennessee  won the site selection process over other sites in Beaverton, OR and North Mississippi.

The Krystal Co Relocates Corporate Office to Atlanta

The Krystal Company announced that it is relocating its corporate office, which they call an RSC or Restaurant Support Center, from Chattanooga, Tennessee to a new location in North Atlanta, Georgia in early 2013.

The Krystal Co

The Krystal Co (Photo – neror/flickr)

The move affects about 60 RSC employees in Chattanooga, who will have the option of applying for the same positions in the new office in Atlanta.

The company said in a statement that the move will have no negative impact on the more than 6000 employees that work at over 350 Krystal Co restaurants.

They did note that the move to Atlanta will allow them to offer better support for the restaurants and enable the company to open an additional new restaurant each year over and above current expansion plans that will add 40 more jobs. Krystal plans to open at least 150 new restaurants in the next five years, creating thousands of new jobs.

The company’s president and CEO Doug Pendergast said the move is mostly about Atlanta’s central location that will help them manage and expand the company faster.

“Chattanooga has been a wonderful home for Krystal, and we appreciate the support of the community,” said Pendergast. “Our five-year plan calls for aggressive new store growth and Atlanta provides a more central location with access to the one of the country’s largest airports. Our new support center will enable us to provide better support to our existing restaurants and to accelerate new restaurant development across the southeast.”

“Our greatest regret is that while this move makes tremendous business sense, it impacts the people who have helped make this company what it is,” added Pendergast.

The company says that its RSC employees who choose not to relocate to Georgia will be offered severance packages and job search assistance. Krystal will continue to maintain a significant presence in Chattanooga and Tennessee, and will mostly likely choose Chattanooga as the site for its official Krystal museum.

The Krystal Company was founded in 1932 in Chattanooga and acquired by the Argonne Capital Group earlier this year. They currently have more than 350 company-owned and franchised locations in 11 states.

U.S. Solutions Call Center Jobs Jump Across State Line To Tennessee

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced that the U.S. Solutions Group is opening a new call center in Sullivan County. The company is investing $4.1 million for the new center, and it will be creating 548 new jobs.

Call Center in Tennessee

Call Center in Tennessee (photo – tn.us)

Recruitment and hiring for these jobs has already begun. For a call center to start with an investment of more than a million and over 200 jobs is a big deal, and the trickle down effect in Bristol and Sullivan County will be considerable.

Everyone in Tennessee from the Governor down to the Bristol city manager was understandably willing and happy to lay out the welcome mat.

Not so coincidentally, the company’s headquarters is also in Bristol, but this Bristol is in the Blue Ridge Highlands in Virginia, on the other side of TN-VA state line which is shared by the two Bristols.

“I want to welcome U.S. Solutions Group, Inc. to Tennessee and the hundreds of jobs they will create for Tennesseans,” said Gov. Haslam. “U.S. Solutions Group’s decision to locate in Sullivan County is great for the region, and we appreciate their investment in our state and in our state’s business-friendly climate.”

“We are delighted with U.S. Solutions Group‚Äôs decision to locate and consolidate operations in Bristol, Tenn.,” said Jeff Broughton, Bristol City Manager. “The company will be a valued member to our growing business community and will bring more than 500 skilled jobs to Sullivan County.”

“We join with our partners in Sullivan County in welcoming U.S. Solutions to Bristol, Tenn.,” Richard Venable, CEO, NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership, said. “We look forward to U.S. Solutions Group becoming a part of the Sullivan County family.”

“In today’s market, it is no longer a national competition but a global one,” said ECD commissioner Hagerty. “We have worked closely with U.S. Solutions Group’s management and look forward to this project serving as a basis for long-term job growth in the area.”

U.S. Solutions reciprocated in kind to all the warmth and the welcome mats rolled out for them in Tennessee. “We are excited to support local job growth and stability and to provide this quality work facility for both our existing and new people,” said Sharon Bricker, executive vice president, U.S. Solutions Group, Inc.

The company has been in operation since 2001, providing custom outsourcing solutions and services for corporate clients. In April 2010, U.S. Solutions Group, Inc. was acquired by Teleperformance, which is a global giant with 249 facilities in 49 countries.

BofA Merrill Lynch Half Year Community Development Lending at $855M

Bank of America Merrill Lynch says it has provided $855 million in financing and investments for community development in the first half of 2012.

Bank of America community development

Photo – bankofamerica.com

The breakup of the figure includes more than $600 million in commercial real estate-based lending, nearly $252 million in tax credit investments and more than $3 million in other community development equity.

“We’re proud to be recognized by the industry as one of the nation’s largest, most active affordable housing lenders and investors,” said Maria Barry, Community Development Banking executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Our performance in the first half of 2012 is another example of how Bank of America Merrill Lynch is helping create positive impacts in neighborhoods from coast to coast.”

In North Easton, Massachusetts, they are providing more than $28.4 million in credit and equity for Ames Shovel Works, a former factory complex that is being converted into 113 residences.

“We’re excited to provide affordable and workforce housing through the transformation of Ames Shovel Works,” said Howard Cohen, CEO of Beacon Communities which is developing the Ames project. “Saving this endangered landmark was a collaborative effort, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch is a key part of the team, providing the right financial solutions to help move this complex project forward.”

In Dickson, Tennessee, BofA Merrill Lynch is providing more than $4.6 million in construction and permanent financing for Dickson Gardens. Developed by Arrington Developers, Dickson Gardens will have six buildings with 48 apartments for senior households with incomes at or below 60 percent AMI.

BofA Merrill Lynch and the Bank of America Community Development Corp. together form “Community Development Banking,” which has provided financing for more than 103,000 units over the past seven years.

“Corporate social responsibility is an extension of the values we stand for as a company,” said Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. “Our goal is to connect the people and businesses we serve with the products, tools, and resources they need to accomplish their goals, drive economic growth and make communities and the world better.”

As per BofA’s 2011 CSR report, they have helped more than 693,000 homeowners either purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage with $151.8 billion in residential first mortgages in 2011, including more than 237,000 to low- and moderate-income borrowers. They invested more than $1.6 billion to help create more than 11,000 affordable housing units for families, seniors, veterans and people with special needs.

City Council in Oak Ridge, Tennessee Approve Economic Development Contracts


The city council in the region of Oak Ridge, Tennessee recently approved a variety of economic development and tourism contracts totaling $450,000 dollars.

The funding increased when compared with the past year. The first contract totals approximately $410,000 dollars while the second one is valued at $42,000 dollars. The second contract is with the economic development agency and its consultant named Ray Evans. The City Manager for the Oak Ridge region states that the tourism agency is much more focused this year. Mark Watson elaborates on how the events received the proper amount of attention as coordination improved dramatically. The President of the tourism agency states that it has been a difficult year for the tourism industry but revenue has increased which is a positive indicator.

A city council member whose name is Anne Garland questioned the legitimacy of increasing the contract value when certain performance indicators were not identified.

Under the development contract, there are a few goals which are going to be established such as:

  1. The development of a marketing program across the region
  2. 3 year business plan which will enhance the city festival

The development of the hotel infrastructure and the conference capacity is also included in the economic development contract. A motel and hotel tax will also be imposed which will add up to approximately 5 percent while it is received by the Oak Ridge tourism agency. Under the particular economic development contract, the consultant will assist with an improvement of the Jackson Square, the sale of the Oak Ridge Mall and the commercial development of the Woodland Town Center. The Chamber of Commerce President supported the economic development contract along the side of the development consultant. The Chamber President did pinpoint that the chamber could not assist with important issues such as the sewer lines.

Overall, the approved contracts will help the region of Oak Ridge and its community members.

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Strong Cities, Strong Communities Gets $11 Million

Acting Asst. Secy. of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine announced that the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative (SC2) will get $11 million in grants this year.

Memphis, TN Mayor A.C. Wharton and SC2

Memphis, TN Mayor A.C. Wharton and SC2 (Photo – dot.gov)

SC2 assists economically challenged municipalities in creating long term economic development plans.

The $11 million includes $1 million each for six cities that will be chosen through a grant contest, and allocation for the establishment of the SC2 National Resource Network.

In addition to the funds, each of the winning cities will get technology and training assistance to conduct a 2-phase Challenge Competition.

In phase 1, the city invites teams of professionals to submit proposals broadly outlining how they will develop economic development strategies and plans for the city. Each city will award financial prizes to the top-rated proposals and invite several teams to participate in the second phase.

In phase 2, teams will compete to develop a comprehensive economic development plan for the city. Each city will evaluate the submitted plans using a city-appointed panel of experts, and award a financial prize to the highest-rated plan.

“This competition is an important intergovernmental collaboration and will empower local leaders to identify and leverage bottom up strategies to strengthen their local economic ecosystems,” said Matt Erskine.

A couple of months, an interagency SC2 White House Council was created and based at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The 19 federal agencies involved will coordinate the implementation of SC2 and build a foundation for expanding the program to cities across the country.

SC2 is currently working only with the six winning cities from 2011 – Chester, PA; Cleveland/Youngstown, OH; Detroit, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, Tennessee; and New Orleans, Louisiana.

“With the amount of federal investment hitting the streets of our city, Strong Cities, Strong Communities provides the type of interagency cooperation, coordination and expertise that is vital to making the most of existing resources,‚Äù said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

SC2 pilot cities are selected on the basis of economic need, strong local leadership and collaboration, potential for economic growth, geographic diversity, and the ability to test the SC2 model across a range of environments.

Federal assessment teams will be working directly with mayors and other local officials to determine needs, opportunities and gather input for the pilot initiative.

The application deadline is July 23, 2012. More Information at eda.gov.

Area Development Gold and Silver Shovel Awards

Area Development magazine has published its 7th annual list of Gold and Silver Shovel Awards that recognize excellence in U.S. state economic development and job creation.

Area Development Gold and Silver Shovel Awards

Photo - Area Development Online

Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Utah get gold shovels as the top state in their respective population tiers for projects undertaken in 2011 creating a significant number of high-value-added new jobs as well as investment.

“As the economy slowly recovers, communities are going to great lengths to attract new businesses and to help their existing corporate citizens to expand their business,” said Geraldine Gambale, editor of Area Development. ‚ÄúThe states receiving 2012 Shovel Awards deserve special recognition for their efforts.‚Äù

Texas has been grabbing shovels every year ever since AD started this listing. The Lone Star state got gold shovels in every year except 2006, when it was given a silver shovel. Texas added 237,100 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012, an annual growth rate of 2.3 percent compared with 1.5 percent for the United States.

South Carolina‘s automotive production surged 52 percent in 2011. In 2011 the state ranked first in the nation for tire exports, holding nearly one-third of the share of U.S.-made exported tires.

Tennessee‘s economy is benefiting from a recovery in manufacturing, especially automotive, heavy equipment, and the food and beverage sector.

Utah got its first ever gold shovel this year. Industries that are driving the Utah economy include financial services, life sciences, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, and software/IT.

Silver shovels were handed out to 14 other states in their own population tier.

9+ million tier- North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio

5 to 9 million tier – Arizona, Missouri, Indiana, and Virginia

3 to 5 million tier – Alabama, Louisiana, and Kentucky

3 million or less – Kansas, Mississippi, and Idaho

AD invited all 50 states to submit their top 10 investment and job creation projects for 2011. Weighted scores were assigned based on number of high-valued added jobs per capita, amount of investment, number of new facilities, and industry diversity.

You can read the detailed explanations for all 18 Area Development Gold and Silver shovel winners on areadevelopment.com.

VisionPerry Model for Internet Based Rural Economic Development

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) has published a fascinating article on its website about how a pilot project in Perry County, Tennessee has the potential to change the face of rural economic development.

Remote customer service representatives working at VisionPerry HQ

Remote customer service representatives in Perry County, TN (Photo - VisionPerry)

Back in 2009, Perry County was in a deep hole with a ghastly 27 percent unemployment rate. Two large employers had shuttered operations and the recession was in full bloom so attracting new companies or getting existing ones to hire more people was out of the question.

The unlikely story of how Perry County used the internet’s ability to overcome geographic limitations begins with their quest to employ a few youth for a summer work program in Linden, the county seat. They applied for some stimulus dollars for this purpose and 65 youngsters were put to work doing all kinds of summer work.

When the funds ran out, Linden mayor Jim Azbill decided to continue the program using their own funds, and created an economic development organization (VisionPerry) to manage it on an ongoing basis.

Community officials then decided to expand VisionPerry’s focus to a long-term and sustainable job creation program. But the remoteness of the county 90 miles west ofNashvilleand the lack of a 4-lane highway was preventing them from attracting new businesses.

Ultimately, they decided to use VisionPerry as a means of attracting internet-based jobs that could be done remotely. A pilot project called Digital Factory was set into motion with funding from the local Workforce Investment Board. The VisionPerry HQ was used for training and as a workplace for the remote staffers placed with six national companies.

Because VisionPerry was an ED organization doing community development work, it wasn’t hard for them to get clients willing to outsource their work to people in Perry County. The VisionPerry HQ started buzzing with workers formerly unemployed who were now doing multiple shifts for different companies.

VisionPerry provided everything they needed, from computers and internet to printers and a conference room. Others were working from home using cloud-based Live-ops technology that VisionPerry implemented.

The work could be done by entry-level digital workers with little or no experience of using the internet. For example, one initial project for Bizooki.com required workers to find an email address on a specified website and paste it into another window. Workers on this project earned $8 to $19/hr, depending on their speed.

VisionPerry and cTechnology, their partners in the Digital Factory project, are now training and placing rural programmers for advanced positions that pay $15 to $25 per hour. Customer service operators likewise make as much as $25 per hour if they can clock in regular sales on incoming calls.

“Attracting a brick-and-mortar company to relocate or open a location in rural areas is a challenge. Yet because of the technological innovation available to companies doing business in the cloud, work opportunities are available anywhere, at anytime,” said Tim Whipple, vice president of Community Operations for LiveOps. “I have had the opportunity to meet some of the agents from this area and have found them to be very motivated and talented.”

Whether because of a national uptick or because of VisionPerry’s efforts, unemployment in Perry County has since gone down. Last fall, NYX, Inc., a Michigan-based automotive supplier, decided to open a $23 million manufacturing facility in Linden that will create 400 new jobs.

VisionPerry’s internet-based model of kickstarting a rural economy has now spread to Gibson County, which is another 100 miles west of Perry County. Over 50 people in Gibson have now found work through their own Digital Factory. If this trend continues, Corporate America could soon be outsourcing all its software, BPO and call center needs to rural Tennessee.

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