Logan County had its first team meeting on Wednesday after being accepted earlier this year into the Valley Sustainable Communities Program, which is in its second year being sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
“The purpose of this is to encourage sustainability,” said Tom Harned, the executive director of LEAD. “It is really an overarching program to promote the use of green initiatives. Things like reducing the carbon footprint in Logan County, using fewer nonrenewable resources, being more efficient in our use of energy and doing even more recycling.”
Harned and several other community leaders met with representatives from the TVA and the group that is overseeing the program to determine at what level Logan County would be designated.
There are three levels - silver, gold and platinum - with platinum being the most prestigious.
“When meeting with the consulting firm that administers the program, we went through a two-hour discussion about sustainability issues and what we are doing here in Logan County,” Harned said. “As we went through the check lists for the various levels, they were very surprised that a rural county was that far along with recycling and sustainable initiatives.”
Offering countywide curbside recycling is one of the main benchmarks for a community to reach the platinum level.
“Our manufacturing also plays a big role,” Harned said. “Especially the metalworking since they recycle everything. Logan Aluminum is a huge recycler of metal.”
The agricultural community in Logan County is also doing its part.
“When you look at what they are doing with soil conservation and crop rotation - that’s also a part of sustainability,” Harned said.
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 goal of the program is to increase the likelihood that communities will be viewed as progressive and competitive by companies planning to invest in new or expand business locations.
“Whatever level we are given, it will give us a marketing advantage over communities that have not achieved that designation,” Harned said. “People are increasingly concerned with sustainability - and a new business or manufacturer looking to locate would be favorably impressed by a community that has achieved the sustainable badge of honor.”