What was the purpose of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) ?
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was established by Congress, at the request of President Franklin Roosevelt, for the purpose of facilitating economic development across much of the American South. Conceptualized as a key component of Roosevelt’s New Deal designed to help the nation recover from the economic ravages of the Great Depression, the TVA was formally established in 1933 with the mission, as its own website states, “to address a wide range of environmental, economic and technical issues, including the delivery of low-cost electricity and management of natural resources.” By developing and managing a system of waterways and dams throughout the region (which encompassed Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Georgia), a section of the country economically underdeveloped during the best of times would have a better chance at economic development. The dams and the development of a system of manage waterways would provide low-cost electricity and enable more efficient agricultural practices, all of which remains a core mission of the TVA today. In addition to the long-term benefits associated with the TVA, the construction projects funded by the federal government to build the new dams and to integrate the rivers and canals that cross the region were intended to provide thousands of jobs at a time when unemployment was obviously one of the country’s biggest problems.
The purpose of the TVA was to contribute to the economic development of the Tennessee Valley in particular and to improve economic conditions in the South and the whole US more generally.
One of the aims of the New Deal was to improve the long term economic prospects for the whole country. The idea was that this would prevent future depressions from occurring. One long term goal was to improve the economic conditions in poor areas like the Tennessee Valley. This is what the TVA was meant to do.
Specifically, the TVA built a number of dams. The dams were meant to bring electricity to the area, to make the river more navigable (which would increase trade) and to prevent floods. By doing all of these things, the dams set up under the TVA would contribute greatly to the economic development of the region.