Star Staff Reports
Memphis-Shelby County has been designated as a Valley Sustainable Gold Community in Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) economic development program. Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability and Greater Memphis Chamber recently completed the program sponsored by TVA and developed and administered by consultant Boyette Strategic Advisors (BSA). “This takes Memphis-Shelby County’s economic development marketing efforts to prospective and existing sustainability-focused companies to a whole new level,” said Kelvin Kolheim, Director of Economic Development Greater Memphis Chamber.
The Valley Sustainable Communities Program, now in its second year, was initiated by TVA Economic Development as part of its community preparedness offerings to assist communities in evaluating existing sustainability programs, cataloging their sustainable assets, and increasing future commitments to sustainability. The goal of the program is to document a community’s assets and increase the likelihood that they will be viewed as progressive and competitive by companies looking to invest in new or expanding existing locations.
“Shelby County has already made significant strides in the area of sustainability, from the development of the Sustainability Shelby Plan and Mid-South Regional Greenprint, an increase in number of greenways and bike lanes, and reduction of energy use in government buildings. This Gold designation allows the county to leverage this success in order to attract new corporate investment and create jobs,” said Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr.
“We are proud that Memphis-Shelby County has successfully completed the Valley Sustainable Communities Program,” said Del Boyette, President/CEO of Boyette Strategic Advisors. “The gold level designation recognizes that a community has community-wide sustainability initiatives in place, with programs available to support the existing business community and promote economic development.”
Sustainability has become a key issue for economic development organizations and communities as more corporations have demonstrated an increasing commitment to sustainability. More than 90 percent of corporate real estate executives who responded to a CoreNet Global survey on sustainability said that it is a consideration in their company location decisions. The typical reasons for this corporate commitment are reduced operating costs for increased profitability and greater employee satisfaction.
“The citizens of Memphis want a sustainable city. Over the last several years, we have seen a growing demand for walkable, healthy neighborhoods, vibrant public spaces, access to fresh foods, energy efficient buildings, and streets that serve alternative transportation like bikers, pedestrians, and first-class public transit. This Gold designation is an important confirmation of the work we’ve done,” said City of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.
“This program is the first of its kind to connect the dots between corporate America’s commitment to sustainability and its impact on economic development, which ultimately will ensure that our communities are more prepared to compete in global markets,” added John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development. “We are seeing that more and more companies have an increasing business emphasis on sustainable operations, and are adding this component to their RFIs as they search for a community where they can locate, grow, and enhance their company and employee sustainability commitments.”
Thirteen communities were recognized as Valley Sustainable Communities in 2013, and an additional 12 communities are seeking recognition this year. In addition to completing the inventory of sustainable assets and utilizing the Valley Sustainable Communities designation in their marketing materials, communities that complete the program also receive marketing support from TVA Economic Development. www.sustainableshleby.com