TVA Shops Local

To help boost the regional economy, TVA focused 80 percent of its spending on Valley-based businesses in 2017.

Small Business Saturday gives us all a chance to reflect on benefits of keeping business local. Local businesses keep money in the local economy, and they create jobs. They often offer unique products and services that are innovative and immediate. They’re owned and staffed by friends and neighbors. And—as most are small businesses—they are the backbone of a strong American economy.

TVA believes in shopping local. That’s why it focused a record-breaking 80 percent of its supply-chain managed spending—or $2.7 billion—on Valley-based suppliers in fiscal year 2017.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to do business with suppliers that are based in the Valley,” says Althea Jones, manager, TVA Supplier Diversity and Development. “Valley-based companies with strong community ties are good for the regional economy, and often provide the best value to TVA, which helps us keep our rates low.”

Thinking Small

Moreover, TVA shops small. Small business spending also climbed in 2017 to 29 percent, up from 26.3 percent in 2016. Diverse business spending likewise climbed to 12 percent, up from 11 percent. Those increases happened despite the fact that TVA actually decreased its spending in 2017 by more than 15 percent.

Key Performance Indicators FY2017 FY2016 FY2015 FY2014 FY2013
Total Small Business Spend(%) 29% 26.3% 25.0% 26.6% 23.7%
Total Small Business Spend($) $989 Million $1.05 Billion $946 Million $899 Million $824 Million
Total Diverse Business Spend(%)* 12% 11.0% 10.0% 8.1% 7.9%
Total Diverse Business Spend($)* $390 Million $439 Million $379 Million $269 Million $273 Million
Total Valley Business Spend(%) 80% 79.5% 77.5% 74.7% 67.1%
Total Valley Business Spend($) $2.7 Billion $3.2 Billion $2.9 Billion $2.5 Billion $2.3 Billion

*Total Diverse Business (%) and ($) includes spend with minority-owned, woman-owned, small disadvantaged-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned and HUB zone businesses

“There’s a growing commitment across our TVA business units to provide opportunities for small, diverse and Valley-based suppliers who can demonstrate their competitiveness when it comes to safety, quality, price and reliability,” says Jones.

She points to a few of the ways TVA works to fulfill that commitment:

  • Inviting small and diverse businesses to participate in competitive bidding opportunities
  • Promoting partnerships and subcontracting relationships to aid business development
  • Offering small and diverse businesses support services, including guidance through the inquiry and bid process
  • Encouraging large prime suppliers to mirror TVA's diversity commitment
  • Engaging in outreach initiatives to identify suppliers, including building partnerships with business development organizations, government agencies, distributor partners and congressional offices

“We make an effort to cultivate relationships with small, diverse and/or Valley-based businesses because we know that working with them is investing in the present and future success of our region,” Jones says.

Room to Grow

For Hicks & Ingle Corporation, a certified woman-owned small mechanical engineering contractor based in Knoxville, Tenn., the investment has paid dividends.

“Having a contract with TVA has helped us grow in our capabilities,” says owner Katrina Ivey. “We’ve learned about how to look at jobs more logistically. We’ve learned to work more safely. And we’ve been able to embrace new challenges and work closely with TVA to solve problems. That’s helped us to develop new skills, which we can now transfer to other clients.”

Ivey is especially excited when she is able to make a new hire, because she echoes TVA’s commitment to the local economy. “Here in the Valley we want to make sure we are growing and that we are paying attention to our most valuable resource, which is people,” she says. “We all need people in the local economy getting better jobs and paying their bills so we can have all have a better life. It just makes so much sense, and TVA really gets that.”

Shining Example

Patsy Hayward, owner of Hayward Bolt and Specialty in Chattanooga, Tenn., has also seen her small business expand—from nine to 12 employees—because of her contract with TVA. She supplies fasteners of all sorts to every aspect of the organization. “If it’s nailed, screwed, glued or welded, we provide it,” she says.

One of the best things about working for TVA, in her estimation, is that TVA shares good news. “They put a value on Valley companies, and they take care of Valley companies,” she says. “TVA will tell others about the suppliers who are shining bright for them. They don’t keep quite; they’ll tell their counterparts about us. We’ve gotten work from Georgia Power and from Kewit thanks to exposure from TVA. It’s awesome.”

She likes the fact that TVA benefits her company in other ways, too. “What TVA is trying to do is to bring lots of business to this part of the country,” Hayward says. “Volkswagen and Volkert wouldn’t be here if TVA weren’t in the mix, and I benefit from having them here—I’m doing business with the 3rd and 4th tier local contractors who work with those companies.

“I like how it’s a nice little circle,” she concludes. “I like how TVA allows for all of us to shine.”

Supplier Diversity

Executing our mission of service to the nine million residents of the Tennessee Valley requires openness to new ideas, innovative solutions and bright minds that possess the knowledge and passion to achieve success. That’s why TVA values diversity in our employees and in everyone we work with, including suppliers. Learn more about Supplier Diversity at TVA.