Alexander: Fair is a Time to Think Differently About What East Tennessee Has to Celebrate

Posted on September 6, 2019

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., September 6, 2019 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) suggested today that the Knoxville area follow the advice of Professor Harcourt Morgan, one of the founders of the Tennessee Valley Fair, and use the fair as a time to think differently about what the region has to celebrate.

“If we want to celebrate what is really special about our region, the best way to do that today would be to change the sign at the airport to say, “Welcome to Knoxville: Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains and the Oak Ridge Corridor,’” Alexander told the 100th annual government business luncheon today at the fair.

The senator said, “There are about 3,000 scientists and engineers working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the University of Tennessee. This is one of the largest concentrations of brainpower anywhere in our country. It rivals North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Massachusetts’ Route 128 and even California’s Silicon Valley.

“When the fair began, Oak Ridge was a village, there was no TVA, UT didn’t offer doctoral degrees and no one had even imagined the idea of a personal computer. Now it is a major research university, TVA is the nation’s largest public utility and Oak Ridge has become the nation’s largest energy laboratory and one of the best known brand names for excellence. It houses the world’s fastest computer and most advanced research materials, and is a leader in 3-D printing for manufacturing.

“In the early days of the fair, the secret city at Oak Ridge had little to do with the rest of East Tennessee. Now it has everything to do with it.”

Alexander concluded, “As Governor Bill Lee said at Oak Ridge last year, ‘In this day and time, you need a magnet to attract jobs and capital. We have one right here.’”