Jessica Breaux calls them the three E’s. The Tennessee Valley Authority is known for energy, environment and economic development, she said.
Breaux, manager of field operations for TVA economic development, focused on the last of those Tuesday morning during her speech at the Mayfield/Grave County Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Industry Breakfast.
Graves County Economic Development was the presenting sponsor for the breakfast. GCED President Ryan Drane and Breaux both spoke a bit about the partnership between the two groups that is helping to move projects forward.
For example, TVA provided concept art for Grace Industrial Park, now under construction at the former General Tire plant on U.S. 45 north of Mayfield. It also provided the three-dimensional renderings being used to market a 100,000-square-foot spec building GCED intends to build in the Hickory Industrial Park.
A ground-breaking ceremony for the building is being planned for the end of the month, Drane said. When completed, he said, it will be the largest such building west of Interstate 65 in Kentucky.
“We’ve already submitted it for three projects,” Drane said. “We’re very excited about that. You have to have inventory in your portfolio if you’re going to compete.”
Breaux also talked about other ways TVA has collaborated for economic development in Graves County, including through site review/planning, helping with recruitment, job creation incentives, annual strategic planning, infrastructure assistance and the use of virtual reality and drones.
“Someone can get a pretty good idea of what your property looks like without ever setting foot on your site,” Breaux said, explaining how TVA has posted footage on its website for potential economic development prospects to see at a glance.
“I’m truly passionate about this work,” she said. “I believe in it. It helps change communities.”
Since 2012, TVA has been involved in the creation or retention of 500,000 jobs and $6.3 billion in capital investment throughout the Tennessee Valley, Breaux said.
Much of the work is helping communities to be attractive places for companies to want to locate.
“We do a lot of work behind the scenes to help communities be prepared for that next opportunity,” she said.
Breaux talked about how that process has changed over the last decade. It’s no longer enough just for a community to have land available for an industry to build, she said. “Companies have shorter timelines. They have greater expectations.”
TVA can help local government and economic development leaders in highlighting and marketing their assets and helping to overcome challenges by coming up with solutions, she said.
TVA is also helping through new initiatives to develop young talent and to help employees grow though workforce training/development as well as to improve community liveability. All of that helps to respond to economic prospects’ needs, she said, adding, “Companies are always trying to answer two questions: Where is my workforce going to come from today? And where is my workforce going to come from in the future?”