The Valley Sustainable Communities Program is one of TVA’s community preparedness offerings. It assists communities in identifying and cataloging their sustainable assets and increasing their sustainability commitments. The economic development focus is to increase the community’s competitiveness when companies are looking to invest in new or expanded locations in the Valley. Boyette Strategic Advisors developed and is administering the program.
Sustainable economic development balances the need for economic growth with environmental and societal accountability. It ultimately offers benefits across a triple bottom line to ensure a healthy environment, a thriving community, and economic prosperity.
Athens/McMinn County has been designated as a Valley Sustainable GOLD Community. This signifies that Athens/McMinn County has community-wide sustainability initiatives in place, with some programs available to support the business community and economic development opportunities.
- McMinn County Sustainability Plan
- Business Recycle and Energy Audit
- Denso Eco Park
- Connie Allen Education Center - The Connie Allen Education Center is an earth shelter used to house Keep McMinn Beautiful's office and provides for an education/training facility for sustainability. The funding for the building's construction was supplemented by a $250,000 Clean Energy Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
- Athens Public Works solar array consists of 200 kW of solar panels to create energy. The City receives energy credits from the Tennessee Valley Authority for the energy they create.
- Through AUB's Comprehensive Services Program, the Athens Utilities Board provides engineering and technical assistance to business and industry. The program covers all areas of energy use, including lighting, HVAC, wiring, water heating, industrial processes, load management, and commercial cooking, and also includes energy audits.
- The Eureka Trail, a Rails to Trails Program allows participants to walk or bicycle from Athens to Englewood.
- The Wetland at E.G. Fisher Public Library was created to serve several functions including flood mitigation, wetland reclamation, stream bank restoration and others, as well as serve as an outdoor classroom. In this educational environment, wetland visitors, including school children, have the opportunity to become more environmentally aware and to gain a new appreciation for natural areas.