Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Ralph Carnathan, February 15, 2018

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Being hired at TVA

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Partial Transcript: The following is an oral history interview conducted as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority Retirees Association Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan explains how he was hired at TVA, and also briefly discusses his educational background in business.

Keywords: Accepted; Bachelor's degrees; Distributor and Marketing Branch; Distributor and Marketing Chief; General interviews; Hiring; Interviews; Master of Business Administration (MBA); New; Offers; Organizations; Personnel offices; Phone calls; Phone interviews; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tupelo District Office

Subjects: Business administration; Chattanooga (Tenn.); Interviews; Meeting; Mississippi State University; Muscle Shoals (Ala.); Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Tupelo (Miss.); Work

00:03:09 - First job at TVA in power marketing

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--when you--uh--were hired at TVA then what was your--uh--first job, and what was the nature of your responsibilities?

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan discusses his work in his first job at TVA in the Special Studies Section within the Distributor and Marketing Branch. The main focus of the Distributor and Marketing Branch during Carnathan's time spent working there (in the 1960s) is examined.

Keywords: Accepted; All-electric homes; Appeal; City programs; Contact; Contribute; Cooperatives; Distributor and Marketing Branch; Distributors; Industrial customers; Interesting; Issues; Jobs; Managers; Municipalities; Permission; Power Marketing Division; Power promotions; Prohibited; Purpose; Regional Economic Area (REA); Request; Revision; Special Studies Section; Studies; Supervisors; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Variety; Witnesses

Subjects: Analysis; Appliances; Conflicts; Distributors (Commerce); Economists; Electricity; Engineers; Home economists; Marketing; Promotions; Revenue; Staff; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:07:16 - TVA power service area / First job dynamics

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Partial Transcript: And--um--at that time--um--you can describe this anyway you want, but how big was the TVA power service area?

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan briefly talks of TVA power service areas. The dynamics of the Distributor and Marketing Branch in relation to electricity and power distribution are explored.

Keywords: Assignments; Backlogs; Distributor and Marketing Branch; Distributor managers; District Offices of Power; District managers; Important; Interesting; Issues; Municipal distributors; Power Board building; Power distributors; Relationships; Special Studies Section; Studies; Supervisors; TVA service area; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Trivial

Subjects: Chattanooga (Tenn.); Distributors (Commerce); Economists; Electricity; Management; Managers; Meetings; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Travel

00:09:58 - New job opportunity

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Partial Transcript: --Um--a--a thumbnail sketch of your whole TVA career.

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan lists the various positions he has held and the offices that he has worked in within the TVA. How movements within other divisions of employees allowed for job changes for Carnathan is also explained.

Keywords: Applications; Break rooms; Colleagues; Confused; Dissertations; Doors; Dr. Foster; Driving; Envelopes; Hired; Houses; Industrial development; Job openings; Job postings; Missions; Navigation Development Division; Office of Power; Optimistic; PhD; Phone calls; Power and Marketing Branch; Power loads; Receptive; Return; Secretaries; Secretary; Skills; Special Studies Section; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Unknown

Subjects: Careers; Chattanooga (Tenn.); Elevators; Employees; Interest; Job creation; Knoxville (Tenn.); Opportunity; People; Staff; Talk; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; University of Florida

00:14:32 - Early industrial development in Tennessee Valley

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Partial Transcript: When you had that first meeting with him at his home--uh--what were some of the things that you remember he mentioned?

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan describes the dynamics within industrial development in the Southeastern United States during the time that TVA began to become involved in that development sector. Some of the major players in Southern industrial development during the mid-1960s are examined.

Keywords: Chambers of Commerce; Conflict; Congressional appropriations; Dr. Foster; Funds; Industrial development; Industrial growth; Local; New; No program; Regional Industrial Development Associations (RIDAs); Sponsored; Support; TVA Board; TVA power; TVA service area; Tennessee River Valley Development Association (TRDA); Tennessee Valley; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tennessee Valley Authority Act of 1933; Unapologetic; Under the radar; Voluntarily

Subjects: Alabama; Decatur (Ala.); Distributors (Commerce); Economic development; Electricity; Industry; Kentucky; Management; Membership; Mississippi; Mississippi River; Money; People; Staff; Tennessee; Tennessee River; Tennessee Valley Authority; Work

00:19:38 - Technical assistance in Navigation Resources Branch

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Partial Transcript: Well in your new job--uh--what did, what did you do?

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan details what his job in the Navigation Resources Branch in the Navigation Development Division of the TVA entailed.

Keywords: Chambers of Commerce; Committees; Companies; Development organizations; Driving; Evaluation; Expansion; Facilities; Funds; Help; Improvements; Industrial development; Industrial parks; Industrial sites; Layouts; Navigation Development Division; Navigation Resources Branch; New; Office of Tributary Area Development (OTAD); Organizations; Public information; Recruited; Regional Industrial Development Associations (RIDAs); Regions; Replies; Secretary; Small; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tributaries; Uncompetitive; Utilities

Subjects: Agriculture; Business; Businesses; Committees; Communities; Design; Economic development; Engineers; Growth; Industries; Letters; Navigation; New York; Participation; Recreation; Research; Roads; Staff; State governments; Tennessee; Tennessee River; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:23:26 - Navigation Development Division

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Partial Transcript: The Navigation Development Division.

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan characterizes the type of work that each branch within the Navigation Development Division undertook during his time spent working in the Navigation Resources Branch.

Keywords: Accidents; Boats; Branches; Companies; Congressional appropriations; Crews; Experts; Fix; Help; Industrial development; Industrial parks; Locks; Navigation Development Division; Navigation Economics Division; Navigation Engineering Branch; Navigation Resources Branch; Operations; Paid; Problems; Rail bridges; Shutdown; Tariff rates; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Transportation rates; U.S Army Corps of Engineers; Unique; Valuable; Waterways

Subjects: Analysis; Barges; Books; Cost; Dams; Economic development; Economics; Engineering; Good; Muscle Shoals (Ala.); Navigation; People; Rates; Shipping; Staff; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Transportation; Transportation studies; Work

00:26:51 - Navigation Resources Branch expands services

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--do you have any other--uh--or any stories--uh--from that period of your career that you'd like to add?

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan articulates the steps the Navigation Resources Branch took to expand the TVA's role in promoting and assisting private organizations and state governments in increasing industrial development in the Tennessee Valley.

Keywords: Branch plant; Company; Discreet; Electronic components; Expansion; Hiring; Impact; Impossible; Industrial development; Local; Location model; Manufacturing; Navigation Development Division; Navigation Resources Branch; Odds; Optimizing profits; Organizations; Owners; Power loads; Sophisticated; Southeastern U.S.; Studies; TVA service area; Talking; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Subjects: Analysis; Communities; Consultants; Countries; Economic development; Electricity; Growth; Industries; Job creation; New York (N.Y.); Participation; Promotions; Staff; State governments; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Transportation rates

00:30:15 - PhD / Shifting of positions at TVA

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Partial Transcript: Somewhere along in 19--late 1960s, I had a conversation with Mike, and told him I would like to go back to school at some point and work on a PhD.

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan briefly explains why he decided to pursue his PhD. How a shifting of positions and divisions led to Carnathan's next position as the Assistant to the Director to the Chief of Navigation Resources Branch is discussed.

Keywords: Assistants; Big; Book value; Broader; Chief of Navigation Resources Branch; Combination; Different; Division Director; Division of Reservoir Properties; Dr. Foster; Encouraging; Expansion; Finances; Funds; Government Relations and Economics Head; Help; Impact; Industrial development; Majority; Name changes; Navigation Development Division; Navigation Development and Regional studies; Offers; Paid; Payment in-lieu of taxes; PhD; Position open; Positions; Power properties; Promoted; Regional; Reorganization; Replacement; Section 13; States; Support; Taxes; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tennessee Valley Authority Act of 1933; Timberlake; Time off; Understudy

Subjects: Administration; Boeing Aerospace Company--Management; Change; Conversation; Economic development; Economists; Electricity; Engineers; Industries; Job creation; Knoxville (Tenn.); Management; Managers; Participation; Planning; Resignation; Retirement; Revenue; Staff; Structure; Tellico Dam (Tenn.); Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; University of Chicago; University of Tennessee

GPS: Tellico Dam (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.777778, -84.259722
00:35:47 - Change in TVA philosophy / Promoting economic development

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Partial Transcript: 1978--uh--big changes.

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan assesses the change in TVA philosophy as a whole due the appointment of S. David Freeman as TVA Chairman.

Keywords: Acquainted; Aubrey 'Red' Wagner; Commissioners, Tennessee State Government; Companies; Discreet; Economic Development Conference; Encouragement; Environmentalists; Helpful; Industrial Development Search Council; Industrial development; Jimmy Carter; Navigation Development and Regional Studies; New view; One board member; Organizations; Prospects; Public role; Publicly involved; Recruiting; Recruiting trips; S. David Freeman; Sponsors; TVA Chairman; TVA representative; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tours

Subjects: Advocate; Change; Economic development; Electricity; Europe; Focus; Freedom; Germany; Industries; Job creation; Knoxville (Tenn.); People; Philosophy; Posture; Promotions; Reputation; Retirement; Seminars; Speeches; State governments; Switzerland; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:39:20 - Restructuring of TVA

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Partial Transcript: --Um--we--uh--had a change in organizations about that time.

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan highlights some of the major restructuring efforts that the TVA underwent during the late 1970s. How these changes impacted Carnathan's career are considered.

Keywords: Acting Division Director; Bill Willis; Bob Clement; Branches; Dick Freeman; Division Director-Division of Economic Development; Division of Economic Development; Dr. Foster; General Manager; Help; Industrial development; Informal; Local governments; Navigation Development and Regional Studies; Office of Community Development; Office of General Council; Organizations; Regional organizations; Resigned; S. David Freeman; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tributary Area Development (OTAD)

Subjects: Change; Combinations; Economic development; Industries; Memo; Programs; Promotion; State governments; Structure; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:42:19 - Changes in industrial development

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Partial Transcript: You've--uh--given a very good--uh--summary of the--uh--changes that--organizational changes and some of the people involved that happened at TVA, say from--uh--973...

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan assesses changes to industrial development practices in the Tennessee Valley and the South as a whole.

Keywords: Apparel industry; Automotive industry; Cheap labor; Completed; Conference; Development sites; Division of Economic Development; Foreign plant; Help; Higher wages; Industrial development; Investment; Involved; Labor intensive; Large industries; Nissan; Opposed; Outsourced; Partners; Public role; Recruiting; Replacement jobs; S. David Freeman; Salary; Sophisticated; TVA Board; TVA Chairman; Tennessee Commissioner of Economic Development,; Tennessee Valley; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); The South; Unique

Subjects: Change; Competition; Economic development; Growth; Industries; Job creation; Knoxville (Tenn.); Memphis (Tenn.); Mississippi; Reservoir; Responsibility; Saturn; Staff; State governments; Tellico Dam (Tenn.); Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

GPS: Tellico Dam (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.777778, -84.259722
00:48:30 - TVA helps attract Nissan to Smyrna, Tennessee

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Partial Transcript: I suppose of all the things I'm the proudest of was the Nissan project.

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan details TVA's role in convincing Nissan to build a plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Keywords: Announcement; Car parts; Colleagues; Difference; Factors; Industrial development; Information; Manufacturing hubs; Nissan; Presentations; Products; Reports; S. David Freeman; Sites; Smyrna (Tenn.); Special; Study; Tennessee Commission of Economic Development; Tennessee State Government; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Transportation rates

Subjects: Automobiles; Credit; Decades; Economic development; Expansions; Industries; Japan; Job creation; Los Angeles (Calif.); Markets; Meeting; Mexico; People; Proud; Satisfaction; Shipping; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Transportation analysis

GPS: Smyrna (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.979444, -86.521111
00:52:42 - Successful and failed industrial developments in Tennessee Valley

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Partial Transcript: They all didn't work out quite that good.

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan lists some of the more successful industrial development projects in the Tennessee Valley, as well as some of the less successful projects.

Keywords: Approved; Automotive industry; Barge facilities; Barge transport; Barges; Congress; Congressional appropriations; Coors Company; Dick Freeman; Direct access; Entrance; Facility; Heavy industry; Increasing involvement; Industrial development; Industrial firms; Interested; Iuka (Miss.); Lakes; Lunch; Rail; Riverside; S. David Freeman; Salesmanship; Samples; Smaller industries; TVA Board; Tankers; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Toyota; Yellow Creek (Miss.)

Subjects: Beer; Calvert City (Ky.); Colorado; Decatur (Ala.); Economic development; Employees; Georgetown (Ky.); Industries; Job creation; Kentucky; Knoxville (Tenn.); Mississippi; Navigation; New Johnsonville (Tenn.); Pitch; Roads; Tellico Dam (Tenn.); Tennessee; Tennessee River; Tennessee Valley Authority; Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (Ala. and Miss.); Virginia; Water

GPS: Yellow Creek (Miss.)
Map Coordinates: 34.8405985,-88.428754
GPS: Tellico Dam (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.777778, -84.259722
00:57:26 - Best part of work

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Partial Transcript: What did you like most about your work?

Segment Synopsis: Carnathan shares his favorite aspects of working at the TVA.

Keywords: Cars; Company; Developed; Dr. Foster; Driving; Economic Development Division,; Enjoyed; Facility; Glad; Help; Impactful; Important; Industrial development; Joint efforts; Offering; Opportunities; Outside; Phone calls; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Watching; What-ifs

Subjects: Career; Courage; Economic development; Experience; Job creation; Participation; People; Satisfaction; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Work