Memphis-Shelby County lands gold sustainability status

Memphis-Shelby County grabbed the gold for its sustainability efforts, as the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) economic development program recently designated the area a Valley Sustainable GOLD Community for 2014. The Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability and Greater Memphis Chamber recently completed the program.
 
"This takes Memphis-Shelby County's economic development marketing efforts to prospective and existing sustainability-focused companies to a whole new level," says Kelvin Kolheim, Greater Memphis Chamber Director of Economic Development.
 
The area's accomplishments towards sustainability include developing the Sustainability Shelby Plan and the recently finalized Mid-South Regional Greenprint, along with an increase in number of greenways and bike lanes, and the reduction of energy use in government buildings.
 
Only 13 communities from across the U.S. were recognized as Valley Sustainable Communities in 2013, and an additional 12 communities sought recognition this year.
 
Now in its second year, the Valley Sustainable Communities Program was started by TVA Economic Development as part of its community preparedness offerings to assist communities in evaluating existing sustainability programs, cataloging 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.
 
Sustainability has become a hot issue for economic development organizations and communities. More than 90 percent of surveyed corporate real estate executives indicated that sustainability is a consideration in company location decisions. The typical reasons for this corporate commitment are reduced operating costs for increased profitability and greater employee satisfaction.
 
John Zeanah, Administrator with the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability, expects to see more local demand for walkable neighborhoods, vibrant public spaces, access to fresh foods, energy efficient buildings and streets that serve alternative transportation, such as cycling, walking and first-class public transit.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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