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The College of Nursing and Haslam College of Business are partnering with Healthy Tennessee to host a free symposium, Why Businesses Value a Healthy Community, from 8:30 a.m. to noon Thursday, April 7, at the Baker Center.

Health care and education leaders will join executives from locally based corporations and government officials to discuss why health care issues matter to the community at large. The program focuses on the impact of health care and citizens’ health on the state’s entrepreneurial climate.

Tennessee is consistently in the bottom third of all states in terms of citizens’ health. Recent statistics show that 11 percent of adult Tennesseans have diabetes, while nearly 32 percent are obese and 33 percent suffer from high blood pressure.

“Today’s business leaders need to continue to focus on promoting a healthy workforce,” says Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing. “Many studies demonstrate the value of healthy workplace initiatives on productivity, absenteeism, and long-term positive health outcomes.”

The agenda will feature Knoxville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mike Edwards as well as some of the largest employers in East Tennessee, including Alcoa and Pilot Flying J. Other highlights include presenters from Healthy Tennessee, Denso, Volkswagen, Healthways, Clayton Homes, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, United Healthcare, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Manny Sethi, orthopedic and trauma surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, founded Healthy Tennessee, a nonprofit, to improve access to preventative health care across the state.

“There is no issue more important to the future of Tennessee and the development of a thriving business community than the health of our citizens,” said Sethi. “Companies seek environments in which employees are not only educated but also healthy. Currently, Tennessee ranks forty-fifth nationally in terms of health care with rates of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity at all-time highs. Unhealthy employees cost companies billions in health care dollars on an annual basis and discourage major corporations from moving to our state. That cannot continue.”

The symposium is free and open to the public, but participants must register to attend by e-mailing



Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,

Ashley Dodd, Healthy Tennessee coordinator (615-601-2982)