Several TVPPA members were featured in this week’s series on small town revitalization efforts in the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Public Power Currents Newsletter. The series focuses on three areas where local power companies make significant contributions to the communities they serve: economic development; employee recruitment and retention; and beautification efforts.

In part one of the series, Gallatin Electric Department, Gallatin, Tenn.; Harriman Utilities Board, Harriman, Tenn.;  and Sheffield Utilities, Sheffield, Ala., were highlighted for their impact on local economic development. While Gallatin ED has focused on shoring up high-speed connectivity for business and ensuring its system redundancy with the installation of dark fiber and a fiber loop project, Harriman UB has created partnerships with local and state economic development agencies and TVA to help attract industry to their service area. In Sheffield, Sheffield Utilities has launched a Community Centered Growth Pilot Program in its downtown area.

Part two of the series examines the ways local power companies help attract and keep qualified employees in their small towns. In addition to Gallatin ED, Harriman UB, and Sheffield Utilities, Sevier County Electric Department’s employee retention efforts were showcased in this installment.

Sevier County Electric Department, Sevierville, Tenn., set up a scholarship program for local students that provides a two-year scholarship to a local community college with the option of following that with four-years at East Tennessee State University. They have also partnered with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology to develop a six-month power line construction and maintenance program that prepares students to work in the electric utility industry as electrical linemen.

Gallatin ED offers flexible schedules to linemen and administrative staff. General Manager Mark Kimball also notes the importance of providing an outstanding benefits package to employees in order to improve retention. In Harriman, high school students can learn about career opportunities with HUB and even have a chance to shadow HUB employees in different departments.  Meanwhile, Sheffield Utilities General Manager Steve Hargrove recognizes the value in cross-training employees as well as providing continuing education opportunities and tuition reimbursement.

In the final installment of the Revitalizing Small Towns series, APPA showcases the work of local power companies do to support community beautification efforts. For Sheffield Utilities those beautification efforts took the shape of installing LED lighting along newly installed walking paths and new LED streetlights throughout downtown, along O’Neal Bridge and in The Village, a historic complex originally built to house munitions workers during World War I.

Be sure to visit the APPA web site to read more about all of the local power companies featured and the unique and varied ways they support their communities.