There’s no doubt about it: Sustainability is hot. In a recent survey on the subject, a full 90 percent of corporate real estate executives indicated that sustainability is an important consideration in their clients’ location decisions.
Communities that actively embrace sustainability are viewed as more progressive and competitive than those that don’t. That’s why all economic development organizations—whether at the local, regional or state level—must be prepared to demonstrate the role sustainability plays in their areas as they work to draw new companies and keep existing ones.
Recognizing the importance of sustainability, TVA Economic Development joined with Boyette Strategic Advisors in 2012 to create the Valley Sustainable Communities program. A first-of-its-kind effort, the program offers Valley communities assistance in developing and implementing sustainability initiatives designed to make participants more competitive for attracting jobs and investments. Communities who participate in the program earn points for implementing specific practices in 15 different areas that contribute to overall sustainability.
To date, there are 29 designated Valley Sustainable Communities. (You can find a complete list here.) Among them, they have amassed an impressive list of sustainable assets, including:
58 brownfield/grayfield redevelopments (unused land or buildings repurposed and redeveloped)
37 buy local campaigns
61 farm-to-table programs, allowing customers to purchase food directly from local farmers
38 alternative energy programs
40 community gardens
18 “Tree Cities” & 36 tree plans
23 business recycling collection programs
63 wastewater/storm water plans21 sustainable housing programs
300-plus electric vehicle charging stations
37 community trail programs
For John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development, the importance of sustainability in today’s economic climate cannot be understated. “Environmental sustainability continues to be one of the most important factors when a company chooses to invest or relocate to a community,” he said. “Our VSC program aligns closely with TVA’s mission to serve Valley communities by helping them showcase their strengths, including their sustainability efforts in order to stimulate economic development.”