Twenty-five years after the inaugural National Summit in Oak Ridge, Teknovation has launched a series on the history of the Tennessee Valley Corridor and the TVC National Summit as we count down to the 2020 TVC Virtual Summit Series beginning July 16th.

Newly elected Third District Congressman reveals vision for TVC a day after the election

I recall the first time I met Zach Wamp or, perhaps better stated, experienced his passion, inspirational message, and gravitational magic.

The year was 1995 – late May to be exact – and it occurred in the Atrium of the old Technology 2020 Building in Commerce Park in Oak Ridge. The event was a special workshop focused on technology and local governments just before the inaugural “Oak Ridge Summit” that was set to convene that afternoon.

Zach Wamp motivated in part by the late George Kozmetsky

Former Congressman Zach Wamp recalls the words of the late George Kozmetsky who reminded him of the importance of activities and initiatives that are transcendent, transformational, and multi-generational.

While he was the creator and leader of the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC) and its “National Summit” for 16 years, the organization’s future was clearly a topic of discussion among key leaders when he decided against seeking a ninth term in Congress.

Zach Wamp recalls a pivotal meeting that impacted the future of ORNL

As the inaugural Chair of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC) – a six-year run that ended in 2005, I thought that I had a well-developed knowledge base about key events in the region. That belief was upended when former Congressman Zach Wamp recalled a discussion that most likely paved the way for the University of Tennessee and Battelle to win the contract to manage Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Darrell Akins and John Crisp recall some of the TVC high points over 25 years

Darrell Akins has been involved with the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC) since planning for the inaugural “Oak Ridge Summit” began in early 1995. John Crisp, on the other hand, became involved three years later shortly before the two formed AkinsCrisp Public Strategies.

Now, the two former business partners – they split-up in 2013 – have reunited to plan the silver anniversary celebration for the non-profit organization that will hold its flagship event – the “TVC National Summit” – in a virtual environment over five consecutive Thursdays beginning July 16.

Zach Wamp leaves Congress, but his successor embraces TVC in a very big way

Other than the inaugural event held in Oak Ridge in 1995, my most memorable “Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC) Summit” was in 2005 when the organization returned to the Nation’s Capital for the second time and hosted a truly amazing gala in the National Building Museum.

The venue was spectacular as anyone who attended will recall. More important, as Darrell Akins so correctly noted was the “big boost to the organization’s credibility with Members of Congress and their staff” the gala provided.

Wayne Cropp has a long tenure with the TVC and Zach Wamp

Chattanooga’s Wayne Cropp has been a long-time friend and political advisor to former Congressman Zach Wamp. In fact, he was Campaign Chair for the then candidate’s unsuccessful run for the Third District seat in Congress in 1992 and Chair of the successful runs in 1994 and 1996.

With that prior history, it was only natural that the Chattanooga businessman and attorney would play prominent roles in the first two major technology-focused events that the freshman Congressman staged in his district.

Mike Arms and Steve Cope reflect on their years of participating in TVC activities

Mike Arms of Knoxville and Steve Cope of Tullahoma have several things in common. Both have been involved in economic development for most of their professional lives. Both have served in local government – Cope as former Mayor of his hometown and Arms as Chief of Staff for a former Knox County Mayor.

More important for this article, however, the two are former Chairs of the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC) and probably the longest serving members of the TVC Board of Directors.

Gerald Boyd quickly embraced the TVC when he arrived in Oak Ridge in 2002

Gerald Boyd, the retired Manger of Oak Ridge Operations for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), was not involved in the early years of the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC).

In fact, he did not arrive in the community until 2002 when he moved from DOE headquarters in Washington, DC to head the environmental management program in Oak Ridge. A year later, he assumed the coordinating position for all DOE operations and held that very important role before he retired from the federal agency in 2011.

Erin Koshut recalls her years helping organize TVC events and the unexpected additional benefit

As one of the long-time behind-the-scenes organizers, Erin Koshut has fond feelings for the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC) even though she was not a participant in the first four TVC Summits.

“That’s how Tom (Koshut) and I met,” the Executive Director of the Cummings Research Park in Huntsville reminded us in a recent telephone interview. “He was working for (Congressman) Bud Cramer.” Today, her husband is Associate Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Joel Duling and Mark Gradkowski appreciate TVC’s approach to promoting a regional agenda

Joel Duling and Mark Gradkowski are two corporate executives who got involved with the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC) through their employers. In addition, both share a common appreciation of the organization’s role in promoting the multi-state region and fostering long-lasting relationships.

“I knew about the TVC from my days running production at Y-12,” Duling says of his two-year stint as a Vice President for B&W Y-12 that managed the National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. He did not attend his first National Summit until 2015, however, when he was President of Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin.

Lonnie Lawson introduced to TVC in 2002, helped host major meeting in Somerset a few years later

Lonnie Lawson is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, KY, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Corridor (TVC).

Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, the Center is a nonprofit organization providing leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life for the citizens it serves. Its programs and services center around four focus areas: public safety, arts and culture, leadership, and technology.

Congressman Fleischmann knew nothing about the TVC a decade ago, but is now its greatest advocate

The individual who is arguably the Tennessee Valley Corridor’s (TVC) biggest advocate today knew nothing about the organization a decade ago.

“No sir, it was not on my radar,” Third District Congressman Chuck Fleischmann said during a recent interview as he reflected back to 2010 when he was one of 11 individuals seeking to win the Republican primary and the chance to succeed incumbent Congressman Zach Wamp who was retiring. “I had very limited knowledge of Oak Ridge and the Corridor.”

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