Posted on: Thursday - Jul 16, 2015

When it comes to recruiting new businesses to Tennessee, it takes a great team to work the project and see it through to the end. From Shelby County to Johnson County, TNECD collaborates with different communities and agencies on the local level depending on where the company is interested in locating within the state. The players on the recruitment team may change, but a constant teammate is the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

TVA provides electricity for approximately nine million people in parts of seven southeastern states. The agency works with local power companies and regional, state and community organizations to create economic development opportunities for the TVA region. The economic development division of TVA focuses on attracting and retaining jobs, capital investment, and serving and supporting communities to prepare for economic growth. During fiscal year 2014, more than 43,000 jobs were created or retained in Tennessee.

“The partnership and close relationship we have with TVA is crucial not only when working with clients through the recruitment period, but also from a long-term perspective,” TNECD Project Manager Victoria Hirschberg said. “They are vital partners to executing and closing deals throughout the state of Tennessee.”

We recently spoke with John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development, who gave us his take on economic development in Tennessee. 

How does economic development fit into the overall mission of TVA? 

Economic development is and always has been a core part of TVA’s mission of service. Our mission includes energy, economic development and environmental stewardship. We serve the people to make life better and to provide more opportunities by bringing and keeping jobs and investments to the Tennessee Valley region.

What are the three top priorities you have for your team?

Our priorities include attracting new companies and investment to the Valley, engaging existing businesses and industries to grow in a sustainable manner, and serving and supporting communities to prepare for economic growth.

What are the biggest economic development opportunities and challenges for Tennessee?

I’ll start with the opportunities. We are experiencing very strong growth in the automotive and advanced manufacturing sectors as well as other target industries and service sectors. Tennessee’s investments provide tremendous opportunities.

We are making progress on product development; however, it continues to be a challenge to have enough “market ready” products to meet client needs. Other challenges are workforce and the budget restrictions that the state and communities are facing.

How would you characterize TVA’s partnership with TNECD, and what are the major strengths of TVA’s target market industry specialists working with TNECD’s business development team?

TVA is privileged to work with TNECD, and we have a strong partnership. Economic development is always a team sport. It takes the state, local community and regional partners like TVA all working together in unison and playing various roles to win deals. Partnerships and focusing on client needs make a winning combination to get site visits and win both new and expansion projects. We have dedicated target market industry specialists who work hand-in-hand with Tennessee’s business development team to bring forth the state’s best attributes to attract, retain and help grow business and industry.

Bradley is a veteran economic development professional with 30 years’ experience. He came to TVA in 2002 from the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce, where he was senior vice president of economic development. During his tenure at TVA, Bradley has implemented a broad range of new initiatives, including a targeted industrial recruitment program and increased support for community development and existing companies. For more information on TVA Economic Development, visit tvaed.com.