By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
The theme of this year’s “Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC) National Summit” is “The Power of Partnerships.”
The annual event, which continues through this afternoon in the Student Union at the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville and virtually via Zoom, featured a number of speakers who touched on the importance of the topic in various ways.
- Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs was the first speaker and quickly hit a homerun on the theme. “Our success in Knox County and East Tennessee is dependent on partnerships,” he said, noting that many people from other locations don’t realize that major assets they think are located in Knox County are actually in neighboring communities. They include the nation’s most visited national park in Sevier County, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Roane County, a number of boat manufactures in Loudon County, and one of the region’s largest employers – DENSO – in Blount County.
- Third District Congressman Chuck Fleischmann talked about the strength of the multi-state TVC in terms of helping the region be more competitive for federal dollars, a point that was emphasized later in a panel that I moderated that also featured Second District Congressman Tim Burchett and Seventh District Congressman Mark Green. “It’s not about how handsome you are, but what power you have,” Congressman Burchett said.
- UT President Randy Boyd talked about the move later this fall of many UT System offices into the former TVA East Tower that is being rebranded as the UT Tower. That move, which will include space on the top floor for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), will further cement the strong and growing partnership that is being forged between UT, ORNL and TVA. We’ll have more on that in tomorrow’s edition of biz.
- Finally, the newly confirmed Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission spoke a yesterday’s luncheon. Gayle Manchin leads the multi-state organization that builds partnerships with a number of organizations to advance economic development in the more rural parts of Appalachia. “A zip code should not define your destiny,” she told attendees.
Today’s agenda includes three sessions:
- “Building a Stronger Workforce through Regional Collaboration” with two keynote addresses from Harry Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Jeff McCord, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development;
- “Working Together Inspires Innovation and Entrepreneurship” that will be a panel discussion with Boyd, TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash, and ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia; and
- “The Power of Partnerships through Regional Collaborations” that will feature a keynote address by former U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander.