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Manufacturing is gaining momentum nationwide, creating jobs, and it is expected to grow faster than the overall US economy, according to the latest quarterly economic forecast from the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

The College of Business Administration recognizes this game-changing resurgence and is using its supply chain and manufacturing expertise to shape the industry and inspire change.

UT will host the inaugural Executive Summit for Manufacturing Leaders on May 2. The event will be in Room 602 of the James A. Haslam II Business Building, 1000 Volunteer Blvd.

The summit will encourage manufacturing executives to network across industries and supply chains, learn and share best practices, analyze and solve compelling manufacturing challenges, and be exposed to cutting-edge research and concepts from prominent guest speakers and UT faculty members.

“We want to support manufacturers by providing connectivity to one another, educational resources through research and training, and accessibility to award-winning faculty members,” said Chuck Parke, executive director of UT business nondegree programs.

More than thirty executives from about twenty-five global organizations, including Bush Brothers, Eastman, John Deere, La-Z-Boy, Volkswagen, and Y-12, will attend the summit. They represent industries including consumer product goods, consumables, construction, lawn and garden, medical, automotive, chemical, furniture, and flooring.

The event is not open to the public, but the media is invited to two educational sessions:

  • From 8 9:15 a.m., Mandyam Srinivasan, world-renowned UT researcher and instructor in Lean and Theory of Constraints, will lead an interactive discussion titled “The Ever Flourishing Company Utilizing the Theory of Constraints.” The session will help participants radically improve their companies’ profitability and sustain results over the long haul.
  • From 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., Dave Larson, John Deere’s senior vice president of strategic planning and business development, will discuss the use of technology, the impact of globalization, and the role of strategy in a manufacturing enterprise. Currently a member of Deere’s executive staff, Larson recently led Deere’s manufacturing operations in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Manufacturing is a critical part of the East Tennessee regional economy. Knoxville is a central hub for manufacturing activity in the US. Six major automobile assembly plants, numerous auto suppliers, and a host of chemical manufacturers are within 250 miles of the city.

“There are also a large number of boat, appliance, flooring products, and lawn and garden equipment manufacturers within this radius and a huge aerospace industry in Huntsville, Ala.,” Parke said. “UT also is virtually next door to the Y-12 nuclear complex with thousands of production-related jobs.”

To address the changing face of the industry, the College of Business Administration began offering programs in leadership and operational excellence to manufacturing executives more than twenty years ago.

“Manufacturing is a natural subset of the broader supply chain expertise that UT has,” Parke said.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,

Cindy Raines (865-974-4359,