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June 14, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Gerald Boyd quickly embraced the TVC when he arrived in Oak Ridge in 2002

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another in a series of articles focused on the history of the Tennessee Valley Corridor and its series of Summits. Twenty-five years after the inaugural event in Oak Ridge, the silver anniversary Summit will be a five-part series of 90-minute virtual sessions kicking-off July 16 and continuing for the next four Thursdays.)

Gerald Boyd, the retired Manger of Oak Ridge Operations for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), was not involved in the early years of the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC).

In fact, he did not arrive in the community until 2002 when he moved from DOE headquarters in Washington, DC to head the environmental management program in Oak Ridge. A year later, he assumed the coordinating position for all DOE operations and held that very important role before he retired from the federal agency in 2011.

“When I got here in 2002, we were just opening the waste cell,” he told us. “I spent the first year getting the accelerated clean-up plan done.” However, when he assumed the top DOE role in Oak Ridge in 2003, Boyd says he became active in the TVC for several reasons.

“Darrell (Akins) asked me for better DOE participation,” he recalls, noting, “The contractors were involved, but DOE was not. We needed to show the flag.”

That was not the only reason, however. Boyd says he always felt that the DOE mission had a sizable economic development component, and that was a key focus of the TVC. His views on that role and the work that the TVC does have not changed in the ensuing 17 years.

“It (the Corridor) was the biggest entity looking at economic development across the region, so I got involved,” he explains. “I thought DOE had that major mission that it was not fulfilling.”

Boyd, a Past Chair and current member of the TVC Board of Directors, says he remains involved “because I believe in the (TVC) mission.”

As far as his thoughts on the organization’s impact, he starts with what is arguably a key signature of the organization – involvement across 12 Congressional Districts in five states.

“It is the connectivity of 12 Congressional Districts that has enabled communications that support the success of projects,” Boyd explains, noting in particular the TVC’s focus on the federal agenda so important to many parts of the region.

“What the TVC does protects the mission of these entities in some way, and the result of those activities is economic development,” he says.

Another important initiative in achieving the Corridor’s mission is the 50-member TVC Community College Consortium that is focused on workforce development, entrepreneurial, technology and academic programs to support federal employers.

“They are the front door to the economic development capacity of the federal assets,” Boyd says in striking his familiar refrain – jobs and an improved life for those in the five states. He’s also quick to note that the Consortium is important in showing residents of all communities – from larger cities like Chattanooga, Knoxville and Huntsville through medium size and smaller communities – just how the federal assets are important to them, even if those assets are miles away.


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