OXFORD, Miss.–A major award from the Tennessee Valley Authority for Oxford, Lafayette County and the University of Mississippi came Tuesday. It’s the Valley Sustainable Gold Community status. What that means is that the area has been preparing itself for economic growth and more jobs.
“We’re proud that the Oxford, Lafayette County and University of Mississippi community has completed the Valley Sustainable Communities program,” said Del Boyette, president/CEO of Boyette Strategic Advisors, which did the evaluation. “The gold level designation recognizes that a community has taken a leadership role in implementing sustainable practices and has made a commitment to sustainability efforts focused on economic development.”
Richard Howorth, former mayor of Oxford and owner of Square Books, told News Mississippi that the city has been preparing for economic growth for a long time.
“It’s an acknowledgement of success, but one of the good things is we’re able to recognize now things we need to improve on to move up to the platinum level.”
This press release talks about what sustainability is and what the community has done to attract businesses:
Sustainability has become a key issue for economic development organizations and communities as more corporations have demonstrated an increasing commitment. In fact, more than 90 percent of corporate real estate executives who responded to a CoreNet Gobal survey on sustainability said that it is a consideration in their company decisions. The typical reasons for this corporate commitment are reduced operating costs for increased profitability and greater employee satisfaction.
“TVA Economic Development’s mission includes helping Valley communities like Oxford and Lafayette County prepare to compete by showcasing their community’s strengths including sustainable efforts,” said John Bradley, TVA senior vice president of Economic Development. “We are seeing that more and more companies have an increasing business emphasis on sustainable operations, and are adding this component to their RFIs as they search for a community where they can locate, grow and enhance their company’s sustainability commitments.”
President and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation Jon Maynard said the focus on economic development is unique feature of the program. “Our community has already made a significant commitment to sustainability, and we’re thrilled to receive this honor,” said Mr. Maynard. “This Valley Sustainable Gold Community designation provides us with the opportunity to be recognized and further develop our sustainable initiatives in hopes of attracting new investment and more quality jobs into our community.”
The efforts of the City of Oxford and the University of Mississippi and their respective commitments to sustainability are the driving forces to the Gold status. The LOU was recognized for programs including Good Food for Oxford Schools, the Sustainability Leadership Awards and energy audits provided by North East Mississippi Electric Power Association through TVA’s Energy Right Solutions Program.
Sustainable building practices like the university’s Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, which features the largest mounted solar array in Mississippi, and the LEED Silver designed Innovation Hub, the gateway building for the university’s research park, were also among highlights.
Additional examples of sustainable practices in the community are the O.U.T. public transit system, bike lanes, recycling, use of solar and geo-thermal energy and many others. Manufacturing companies such as Caterpillar and Winchester, both located in Lafayette County, promote sustainable practices to their employees and they see the value of sustainability on their bottom line.