Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter Denying that the T.V.A. Lures Northern Industry to the South.

March 16, 1935

My dear Mr. Thom:

This is in reply to your letter of February twenty-first, in which you call to my attention the report that representatives of the T.V.A. are endeavoring to induce Ohio manufacturers to move to the Tennessee Valley in order to secure the benefits of cheap power.

It is a very definite policy of the Tennessee Valley Authority that no such action be taken in respect to Ohio or any other region.

The letter to you from Mr. Portmann quotes the Ohio Chamber of Commerce as saying: "Those Chambers of Commerce in the North which were recently shocked to find representatives of the Tennessee Valley Authority in our cities, calling upon their industries to urge them to move to southern cities to secure cheap labor, etc."

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce should not make such a statement without definite proof. It would materially aid the Tennessee Valley Authority in carrying out its policy if the Chamber would give us exact information as to the person who claimed to represent the Authority in any negotiations to induce your industry to move South. It seems reasonable that any manufacturer so approached would not deal with an anonymous person, and therefore the Chamber should have no difficulty in furnishing us with definite information.

You are aware, of course, that special interests are constantly attempting to thwart the program which Congress has set up for the Tennessee Valley. In this campaign against the T.V.A. the charge is being circulated in the North that the T.V.A. is endeavoring to lure industry to the South. Citizens of the South are being told that T.V.A. cannot bring in industry but that private power companies have drawn and can draw industries from the North.

On November 7, 1934, Mr. Willkie, President of Commonwealth and Southern Corporation, in a public address in Birmingham, Alabama, made the following statement: "Dr. Morgan said it was against the policy of the T.V.A. to remove industries from other sections of the country to the Tennessee Valley. I understand why the T.V.A. must take that position. The Alabama Power Company can remove industries from the North because it is a business concern, but the T.V.A. can't remove them because it is a part of our Government, and therefore has to think of the political effect on the community from which the industry is removed. . . .

"I can tell you why we maintain an office in New York. . . . It is solely because of two reasons: first, to have a convenient and advantageous point from which we can work with the Alabama Power Company and other companies to secure the removal of Northern industry to this area. How successfully we have done this, perhaps you can judge by the fact that in the past decade the new industries division of the Alabama Power Company aided directly or indirectly in the location of 245 new industries in 129 different communities in your State. . . . "

The Chamber's statement concerning freight rates answers itself. The Chamber knows, as we all do, that freight rates are adjusted by the Interstate Commerce Commission after full and complete hearings.

The Chamber's judicial attitude in circulating these reports may well be gauged by noting whether it warns its members of the private utilities' purpose as announced by Mr. Willkie.

I wish you would run down the statements made by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and demand substantiation of them.

Very sincerely yours,

Honorable William R. Thom,

House of Representatives,

Washington, D. C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter Denying that the T.V.A. Lures Northern Industry to the South. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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