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If You Don’t Build It, They Won’t Come

Knoxville, TN​ (September, 2017)​ - Ten years after Gary Pasano wrote about the importance of manufacturing in U.S. innovation, manufacturing still isn’t addressed in early stage tech transfer conversations. Here’s how technology transfer goes today: a brilliant person confirms a breakthrough in the lab, commercialization partnerships are formed, and excitement builds. Questions about manufacturing arise periodically, but the quick response is “we can put those details together later” or “we will just find an outside resource to handle it”. 

A vast number of books, early venture capital meetings, business and marketing curriculum, and well-meaning directors warn the team: don’t fall into the trap of believing ‘if you build it, they will come’. It’s a good bit of advice because worthless technologies do exist, but most entrepreneurs take the advice too far. To avoid foolishly developing something that doesn’t have confirmed marketability, the team spends thousands of dollars, time, and labor finding the market size or validating the problem.

When the team doesn’t have a solid manufacturing partner to restrict the design based on the economics of production, the design is just a general idea. The marketing evaluation processes for the general idea include general marketing pitches to potential customers. The results are fraught with confirmation bias and include all conceivable markets. That’s why every market evaluation you have ever seen from a startup is an enormous number such as at least $500 M. Right?  By the end of market evaluation phase, the commercialization team spends its first year of steam reaching a meaningless market size estimate. If the team is savvy, it achieves contact with fortune 500 customers who might say ‘if you could save us 12.79%, we would buy’. Several additional months or years are spent to raise funding. At that point the team identifies a manufacturer who says the technology either can’t be made or it is going to cost 10 times more than the money raised. 

I am working on a project that assesses the return on investment for carbon fiber technology from a small manufacturer’s perspective. The University of Tennessee’s Center for Industrial Services has great relationships that allow insight into manufacturability, economics and markets for carbon fiber technology. For me, starting with manufacturing is a fresh and high potential approach. I hope this approach displaces the fear of building something that nobody wants and replaces it with an urgency that says “if you don’t build it, they won’t come.”

Danny Norman
Advanced Composites Technical Consultant

Tennesseans Benefit From UT CIS

Knoxville, TN​ (September, 2017)​ - Every organization has that person or that team that works behind the scenes, making things happen, diligently focused on helping the team succeed with little or no fanfare. At one point in my career I worked for a manufacturing company. Willie worked in the warehouse and shipping department of that company for over 20 years. The work he did was demanding, the environment not so comfortable all the time, but Willie was a fixture at the company and contributed greatly to its overall success.

Generally, there was lots of excitement when a new contract was signed and the order was received, but not a lot of hoopla when the product was being crated up and prepared for shipment. But these last steps were critically important to satisfying the customer. Willie and the folks in the warehouse were quietly doing important work to help their team and their customer succeed.  

The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS) has a long and rich history of serving the people of Tennessee, yet most Tennesseans have never heard of UT CIS. Their 50-plus years of service have done more than just impact the manufacturers of Tennessee and the state’s economy, they have impacted families and communities too. To add some perspective - in Fiscal Year 2016, 3,400 participants completed training programs offered by UT CIS.

The UT CIS website will tell you all that they do to serve manufacturers; from performance solutions, regulatory and sustainability solutions to workforce development and safety training. There are even several success stories that show the impact of their work with each client. What it can’t show you are the positive outcomes that flow down to the individuals who complete leadership training or who learn a new skill such as those involved in lean manufacturing. You can’t really see the many families who benefit when their loved ones learn better safety habits to protect themselves at work so that they return home safe and sound each evening.

When a shift supervisor or a new manager receives training to improve his or her skills as a leader, not only does that person benefit, but their team benefits as well. When the whole team is working well, stress is reduced and people are valued; they feel better about their role in the company and about their careers. That feeling of satisfaction follows them home. When things are good at work, the potential for things to go better at home is greater.

The prosperity of a community is not just a measure of its economic success; it is also a measure of the quality of life for its members. The prosperity of an individual - the richness of life, their success - is not just measured by the amount of money they earn. The average American worker spends about half their waking hours at work. If that time is well spent, if it is considered a good investment, the quality of life increases.

For over five decades UT CIS has been helping manufacturers improve working conditions and create safe, innovative and engaging workplaces. There are many cascading benefits that result from this work. Not all of those benefits can fit into a spreadsheet or in a box to be checked. Sometimes those benefits are experienced in the conversations after a good dinner as families talk about their day’s work and make plans for the future.

Tim Waldo
Workforce Development Specialist

The Human Side of Manufacturing

Nashville, TN​ (August, 2017)​ - I occasionally start reading a book that I can’t put down until I finish. Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local--And Helped Save An American Town, written by Beth Macy, is one of these books. 

Factory Man tells the story of the furniture industry in Southern Virginia and how John Bassett III saved the jobs of 700 Vaughn-Bassett employees by improving his firm’s competitiveness and successfully filing antidumping claims against foreign competitors. Through his focus, tenacity and perseverance, he found a path to success and accomplished something many said could not be done. 

This book stands out because it describes, in very human terms, the importance of manufacturing to communities, families and people. In the book, we see how small towns in rural America live or die with the success or failure of a manufacturing plant. We learn about generations of families who made their way working in “the factory,” and the despair that occurs when the factory goes away. We see how local manufacturers, while creating manufacturing jobs, also make it possible for retailers and service providers to flourish.

Factory Man has several lessons for manufacturers. It demonstrates the importance of continuously improving manufacturing operations; understanding the applications and impacts of trade policy; and always striving to understand and stay close to employees. Factory Man also has critical reminders for the UT Center for Industrial Services. We know, for example, that we must strive to understand the needs of our customers; develop and maintain the expertise to meet these needs; and work collaboratively with our partners to promote the importance of manufacturing.  Most importantly, we must always remember the human side of manufacturing and that when we assist a manufacturer, we are helping a community, families and people.

Beth Macy, author of Factory Man, is a journalist whose work has appeared in national magazines and The Roanoke Times, where her reporting has won more than a dozen national awards. Factory Man was published in 2014.

Paul Jennings
CIS Executive Director

A Better Workplace, A Better World

Nashville, TN​ (July, 2017)​ - In a recent article about The World's Broken Workplace, Gallup’s World Poll reports that many people across the globe hate their job and especially their boss. This has a significant impact on workforce engagement.  Only 15% percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work. The U.S. fares a little better with 30% of employees reporting they are engaged, while Japan has a miniscule 6% engagement!

Jim Clifton, Gallup Chairman and CEO, concludes that lack of engagement is why global productivity has been in general decline for decades. Management practices have not kept up with a rapidly changing world and workforce expectations.  As Clifton states, this “may not be the manager’s fault so much as these managers have not been prepared to coach the new workforce.” He states that organizations must move from having command and control managers to high-performance coaches.

Think what the impact would be if more managers became high performance coaches and workplace engagement doubled or even tripled. Productivity would increase and we would experience stronger and more consistent economic growth. Our workplaces would thrive and organizational cultures improve as people brought their whole selves to their jobs. Communities and families would benefit from greater economic security and improved quality of life.

At the UT Center for Industrial Services, we believe that companies and communities that foster and grow workforce engagement will lead the world. In collaboration with partners across Tennessee and the U.S., we have developed approaches and tools to develop leaders and supervisors​ who can help companies attract and keep needed talent, improve employee engagement, and achieve success. 

We hope you will connect with us soon. We would love to discuss our efforts with you and learn about your workforce successes and challenges.  

Paul Jennings
CIS Executive Director 

The Other Values In An Apprenticeship​​

Knoxville, TN​ (June, 2017)​ More jobs are available in this country than people to fill those jobs. This reality is driving a national conversation, highlighted this month by national Workforce Development Week. It is encouraging that we, as a nation, are looking intently at more options for training our future workforce. The numbers are certainly concerning - 6 million job openings nationally; many unfilled because employers can’t find a skilled workforce. Our current workforce is getting older, and the skills required today in the high tech and ever-changing world are simply missing. What a great time to be starting a career, because demand for skilled workers is extremely high!

Preceding Workforce Development Week was the annual rite of high school graduation. For thousands of recent high school graduates, the time has come to decide the next phase of their lives. Most have spent their high school years listening to the same advice that was given to many who came before them - go to college and get a degree. For many, this is a great option, but the college route is not for everyone

An apprenticeship is an alternative for those who choose to forgo college. An apprentice is a person who gets paid to learn a set of skills, by working alongside others who have mastered a skill set. In addition to good old on-the-job training (OJT), apprentices take specialized classes, paid for by the employer, focused on the job for which they are training. So an apprenticeship is also a great way to get an education. The apprenticeship model has been around for hundreds of years in areas such as building trades (construction, plumbing, electric, etc.) Today, apprenticeship options are available in healthcare, banking, agriculture and IT to name a few; and new options are being developed each year. A hidden value of this skills training approach is that it can be widely adapted to many different occupations and skill sets. For companies that struggle to fill key roles, the apprenticeship methodology can be a game changer.

For employers who embrace this training method, they see value because they get to train people in the exact skill set they need; and they get productive work from these trainees in the process. Another value is the ability to tailor the classroom training to the specifics of the job. Employers can work with local community colleges and other educators to customize the curriculum for their trainees. Unfortunately, many employers seem to struggle to see the values inherent in apprenticeships. No doubt they have business concerns that are legitimate. However, the very nature of the apprenticeship model is a strong tool to keep the future workforce stable and thriving. For example, the mentoring component, which is an integral part of apprenticeships, helps build relationships. The best places to work often are anchored by relationships that make people feel they are a part of something special.  The training process also strengthens loyalty. Employees who feel valued and see employers investing in them tend to stay longer and contribute more.

That built in mentoring component is enormously valuable for other reasons. Employers tell us that after earning a college degree, many of the young people just starting to work simply do not know how to navigate the work environment. They have not had the on-the-job experiences of dealing with others, problem solving, facing deadlines, and so on. Because apprentices are at work every day, spending time with members of the team, they learn these soft skills alongside the more technical skills they are honing. Soft skills apply not only at work, but at home and in the community as well. Learning to work with others, how to communicate and resolve conflict is a valuable set of skills to have in all parts of our lives.

A friend and former colleague loves to say, “Jobs Matter!” Getting people to work in career paths that provide good career opportunities and family-sustaining wages solves a lot of social ills. Apprenticeships can certainly make a valuable contribution in these areas. Apprenticeships come with a paycheck at the very start. These programs help to build strong financial foundations for young families, providing stability early in their adult lives. This stability at home contributes to stability in our communities. Having more people at work impacts economic development, lower crime rates and more. What a great value for our neighborhoods.

When employers talk about workforce development the term Return On Investment always comes up. Families and communities also have an investment in workforce development. We should know what we are investing in, know all of the values and possible returns. Having a strong, stable workforce is vital to all of us. We should inform our young people about all of the options for career training, including degrees from our colleges and universities. We should also help them consider respected alternatives such as apprenticeships.

Before we can do this though, we must fully understand all of the value that the apprenticeship model has to offer. This special, long-proven method of workforce development is built on mentoring, can start careers with a great foundation of stability, and engages our developing workforce in solutions to long-term problems with which all of our communities struggle. 

Tim Waldo
Workforce Development Specialist

Equipping Tennessee’s Automotive Emerging Leaders in the Appalachian Region: 
UT Center for Industrial Services Receives ARC Grant

Nashville, TN​ (March, 2017)​ - The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS) is developing initiatives related to a recent Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant awarded through the office of Tennessee Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

The grant awarded to UT CIS, an agency of the UT Institute for Public Service, targets Tennessee’s automotive industry in the Appalachian region through employer listening sessions, workforce assessments, leadership and supply chain training, and other training needed to address workforce challenges, with particular focus on distressed counties.

The employer listening sessions - the first initiative of the grant - begin April 12, with the objective of hearing directly from the employers in the regional automotive sector about their specific leadership and supply chain training needs. The results of these sessions will guide UT CIS in deployment of leadership development training in Tennessee’s ARC region this summer for front line supervisors.

The impact of these listening sessions will only go as far as the local employers take it. This initiative’s tremendous value lies in the opportunity for employers to have a voice in the development of leadership training related to automotive supply chain, emerging leaders, and future industry growth. As Tennessee’s workforce ages, it is essential that employers identify, develop, and train employees to assume roles handed off by retiring leaders. These sessions will enable employers to do just that.

“The ARC workforce project provides a great opportunity to help the region’s automotive suppliers address leadership transition and other workforce challenges. By listening closely to our automotive customers and working with our DRIVE! Consortium partners, we will take another step toward an integrated and comprehensive approach to workforce development in the automotive sector,” said UT CIS Executive Director Paul Jennings.

The DRIVE! for the Future is an Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative for a 69-county region in central Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia. IMCP encourages communities to develop comprehensive economic development strategies that will strengthen their competitive edge for attracting global manufacturer and supply chain investments. Consortium members include TNECD, the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturing Association (TAMA), the Tennessee Board of Regents, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Pathway Lending.

Tim Waldo, a UT CIS workforce consultant and internationally experienced organizational management professional, will lead the initiative for UT CIS. With 17 years of manufacturing experience under his belt, Waldo has already begun tackling resource-driven initiatives and workforce partnerships, in Tennessee and across the US, to ensure that UT CIS workforce development activities address customer needs.

For more information on this and other Tennessee workforce development efforts, contact Waldo at or visit UT CIS’ website​.

Upcoming Dates:​

Adam Foote
Marketing Manager

East Tennessee Small Business Growth Confere​nce has Successful Turnout: 
278 Small Businesses Network for Matchmaking Opportunities

Nashville, TN​ (February, 2017)​​​Small businesses comprise roughly half of private-sector employment in this country. By pursuing and landing contracts with government sectors, small businesses are able to diversify revenue streams, create and retain jobs, and bolster their local, regional, and national economic impact.

The East Tennessee Small Business Growth Conference, held Jan. 17th in Clinton,  gave almost 300 small business owners and managers an opportunity to network and sit down with government entities and large prime contractors to explore contract purchasing opportunities. Tennessee’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), a program of the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS), hosted the procurement matchmaking event and facilitated relationships between the parties.

The event was standing room only as agencies and prime contractors including Tennessee Valley Authority, BAE Kingsport, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y12 National Nuclear Security Complex, the Department of Energy, UCOR, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and Jacobs participated in one-on-one meetings at booths throughout the day. 

“The opportunity for formal matchmaking was invaluable. However, the informal networking, knowledge and skill sharing made for an incredible day. The investment of sponsors and partners, along with the great work of our PTAC consultants, made the valuable opportunities of the day possible,” said Dr. Herb Byrd III, Vice President of the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service, one of the event’s speakers. 

 Co-sponsors of the event included Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, the Tennessee Veterans Business Association, and Roane State Community College. “None of this would be possible without the support of the event’s sponsors,” said Tennessee PTAC Program Director Paul Middlebrooks. “Thank you to everyone here, supporting small business.”

Tennessee PTAC knows firsthand the impact these contract opportunities have on Tennessee’s economy. In fiscal year 2016, PTAC facilitated over $1 billion in economic impact by working directly with small businesses and government agencies. Tennessee PTAC is a program of UT CIS, an agency of the UT Institute for Public Service. UT CIS has provided these services since 1986. PTAC receives funding, in part, by the U.S. Department of Defense and is administered through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency.

The next small business conference, the USACE Nashville Small Business Industry Day, is set for March 15 in Nashville.

Adam Foote
Marketing Manager

Nashville, TN​ (December, 2016)​​​ - "For years, automakers have longed for a vehicle that possesses the strength of steel without the weight that drives down fuel efficiency. New composite materials could be the answer, but getting them to market has involved years of testing. Five universities, including The University of Tennessee, are part of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI)
IACMI is a $250 million federal initiative created to increase American competitiveness in advanced technologies. 

It is managed by the Collaborative Composite Solutions Corporation (CCS) as a collaboration of industry, universities, national laboratories, and federal, state and local governments working together to benefit the nation’s energy and economic security by sharing existing resources and co-investing to accelerate development and commercial deployment of advanced composites. CCS is a not-for-profit organization established by The University of Tennessee Research Foundation. The national institute is supported by a $70 million commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, and over $180 million committed from IACMI’s partners.

IACMI’s Composite Materials and Process Technology Area, located in Tennessee and led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, focuses on development and characterization of energy-efficient, high-rate, and low-variability manufacturing processes from constituent materials through composite structures. IACMI’s Composite Materials and Process Technology Area will help to accelerate this industrialization by prototyping and/or scaling technologies in carbon fiber production, composites manufacturing including 3D printing, nondestructive evaluation of composites and composites recycling. IACMI’s Composite Materials and Process Technology Area leverages core capabilities from supporting partner institutions." 

Rod Kirk
Technology Acceleration Specialist for CIS

Nashville, TN​ (July, 2016)​​UT Center for Industrial Services Announces Hirings, Promotions

The UT Center for Industrial Services (CIS) announces the hiring of several new employees to serve the needs of Tennessee business and industry, and the promotion of some current employees as part of a reorganization. 

Gordon Reed, Kenny Smith, Kevin Cooper and Bill Hicks join CIS as Solutions Consultants. Reed, an industrial project management expert, represents the Upper Cumberland region. Smith, a production, quality assurance and continuous improvement expert, represents the Northeast Tennessee region. Cooper, a supply chain and planning expert, represents the Southern Middle Tennessee region. Hicks, who previously worked for CIS, returns to represent the East Tennessee region with his expertise in lean manufacturing and environmental, health & safety compliance and management systems. Solutions Consultants interface with the center’s customers and drive the initiation of projects and partnerships across the state. 

Felicia Roberts joins CIS as a Registration Specialist. She will assist customer training registrations by managing the registration process for CIS with a focus on customer service excellence. She will also manage the center’s LMS (learning management system) that tracks customer registrations and transcripts. 

Dwaine Raper and Misty DePriest, previously Solutions Consultants, accept promotions to Solutions Consultant Team Leader and Resource Manager, respectively. Former Solutions Consultant, Rod Kirk, accepts a new role as Technology Acceleration Specialist. He will support and consult manufacturers and businesses on new technology and innovations that have the ability to better their businesses. 

CIS is an agency of the UT Institute for Public Service. The center, headquartered in Nashville, has offices across the state. CIS delivers solutions in the form of training and consulting which address customer needs for growth and innovation, performance improvement, regulatory compliance and sustainability. 

-- We will hire some additional positions over the next few months, so stay tuned for even more growth and exciting news from our office. Also, don’t forget that Manufacturing Day is October 7 this year! Learn more about MFG Day here. 

Adam Foote
Marketing Manager

Economic Development Practitioners Graduate from 2016 

TBEDC Training

Nashville, TN​ (June, 2016)​ - Forty-eight economic development professionals from Tennessee and seven other states graduated from the tenth-annual Tennessee Basic Economic Development Course (TBEDC)​ on May 5 in Nashville. This TBEDC class was the first to graduate under the coordination of the program’s new Director, Kim K. Denton, CEcD. This year the course hosted more than 25 expert practitioners from Tennessee and other states to present topics on the fundamental concepts, tools, and practices needed to succeed in a complex economic environment.

“I was amazed by the passion and commitment of this year’s class. They made it a special event for me since this is my first TBEDC to organize and it was especially meaningful to be a part of the program’s 10th annual course,” said Denton.

The TBEDC course has grown and changed over the last ten years, but at the core of the course are the concepts related to strategies for job creation and retention, developing a competitive workforce, and managing economic development organizations.

This year’s class included chamber of commerce and other local economic and community development leaders, state and regional economic development professionals and elected and appointed officials. The class also included community planners and representatives from utilities, financing organizations, and higher education institutions.

“We are proud to see economic development practitioners and community leaders from across the state and the country gather to devote themselves to learning and growing in this course. The TBEDC and our ED programs strive to help our participants with professional development and discovering new tactics to growing jobs and expanding investment in their regions, which ultimately benefits the entire state.” said Beth Phillips, Economic Development Program Leader for UT CIS.

The four day TBEDC is the foundation course for the Tennessee Certified Economic Developer (TCED) training program offered by the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS). The course is also one of thirty-two Basic Economic Development Courses in the country that are accredited by the International Economic Development Council.​ 

Manufacturing Day date is set for 2016 - Oct 7th!

What is Manufacturing Day?

Manufacturing Day℠ is a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Although Manufacturing Day officially occurs on the first Friday in October—this year is Oct 7, 2016—any day can be a Manufacturing Day.
Companies and community organizations should plan their events on the date that works best for them and their community.

The MFG Day Mission

MFG DAY addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. By working together during and after MFG DAY, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.
Supported by a group of industry sponsors and co-producers, MFG DAY is designed to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and coordinate a collective chorus of manufacturers with common concerns and challenges. The rallying point for a growing mass movement, MFG DAY empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.

How can your company or community participate in Manufacturing Day 2016?

Host a MFG DAY event at your company.  Have a Plant Tour to share your company story and feature your products, processes and workplace.  Invite other businesses, state and community leaders, and most importantly the young people in your community who will be choosing a career path in the coming years.  Make it a fun day that enlightens the attendees about how cool and rewarding a career in manufacturing can be!

Register Your Plant-Tour on the MFG DAY site: ​


Let your local UT CIS Solutions Consultant Help!  We would like to help you setup your event/plant tour on the MFG DAY site for you, and help you promote the event.  

Applied Lean Leadership Conference 2016 

Nashville, TN​ (March 2016​) -​ The 2016 Applied Lean Leadership Conference was recently held in Tupelo, MS in January, with over 150 attendees. The Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers coordinated the four-day event, with support from the NIST MEP national office.

The program was a dual track event focusing on lean leadership and Hoshin Kanri in manufacturing and health care. The targeted audience included leaders, future leaders, and those planning to make sustainable gains in their organizations. Facility tours included Toyota Manufacturing Mississippi, North Mississippi Health Care, Hunter Douglas, MTD Products, Tecumseh Products, and Innocor.

Breakout session topics covered Lean Leadership and Transformation, Hytrol Corporation’s Journey, Lean in Health Care, Japanese Kaizen Events, ThyssenKrupp Elevator’s cultural transformation, TWI in Healthcare, and Lean Practical Applications. The final day consisted of training sessions in Toyota Kata, Lean Problem Solving, and a TWI overview.

One keynote speaker from the conference was internationally recognized leader John Shook, CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute, who says about Lean: “it saves money, increases production, but it really begins with quality, you know, saving money is kind of an efficiency thing and what we all know is before you try to be efficient, you better be effective, you better be able to make good cars before you try to make them at a lower cost.” Other keynote speakers included Isao Yoshino, retired Toyota Motors executive; Patrick Graupp with the TWI Institute; and Art Gonzalez, CEO of Denver Health Care. 

ALLC 2016.jpgALLC 2016 pic 2.jpg 
The event was a huge success this year and with feedback from some of the 150 attendees, UT Solutions Consultant Michael Codega says “the participants, including some traveling from as far away as the Netherlands, felt the event was very useful in helping them to bring sustainable improvements to their organizations and to network with other continual improvement professionals.” In addition to many exhibits and sessions, student lean projects were exhibited and Mercedes Benz of Alabama presented on the Mercedes Benz manufacturing system.

Several notable organizations sponsored the event including the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, Autozone, Hytrol Corporation, Itawamba Community College, North Mississippi Health Care, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Sullivan Consulting Group, Toyota of Mississippi, TWI Institute, University of Memphis Herff School of Engineering, University of Tennessee Graduate Education Program, and Wright Medical.

This year’s conference was the second Applied Lean Leadership Conference hosted by the regional Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers, following last year’s event in Tennessee. The next Applied Lean Leadership Conference is scheduled for this winter in Alabama. 

Philip Trauernicht Memorial Scholarship for Rural Leaders

Nashville, TN​ (February 2016​) - The Philip Trauernicht Annual Scholarship was created in memoriam of Philip Trauernicht. A native Tennessean, Philip spent three decades dedicating his career to economic and community development throughout Tennessee. His service and dedication supported the creation of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of investment across the state’s 95 counties. He worked closely with communities and industry to get much needed resources to rural and distressed areas of Tennessee. 

He was known for his unwavering fairness, honesty, wry sense of humor and willingness to mentor, especially those new to economic development. Philip was a true servant of the people, and he is greatly missed by all who knew him.​  

Informed and innovative leadership in a community is critical to it achieving economic vitality.  We know rural communities in Tennessee face unique challenges and require leaders who understand the building blocks of economic and community development and are able to work collaboratively to leverage the strengths and assets of their community to improve the quality of life for all residents. 

The Philip Trauernicht Memorial Scholarship for Rural Leaders enhances the development of rural leadership through scholarship support to the Tennessee Basic Economic Development Course (TBEDC).​ ​

This scholarship provides full tuition to attend the annual Tennessee Basic Economic Development Course (TBEDC) and up to four nights’ lodging during the course.  The award value per annual scholarship is approximately $1,500.​

Criteria for Award Selection -- Preference will be given to scholarship applicants who meet the following criteria:

  1. Applicants who are engaged in the practice of economic and community development in rural counties or regions in Tennessee;
  2. Applicants with limited resources to support professional development training, and who would be unable to attend the TBEDC without scholarship support;
  3. Applicants who are new to the practice of economic and community development, and who have less than five years of work experience in the profession;
  4. Applicants who demonstrate a passion and commitment to applying the knowledge gained through attending the TBEDC to advance rural development in Tennessee;
  5. Applicants who are members of the Tennessee Economic Development Council or will commit to TEDC membership after completing TBEDC. (Note: TEDC provides a complimentary one-year membership for TBEDC graduates.)​

Learn More or Apply Here

UT CIS Celebrates Manufacturing Day Across Tennessee

Nashville, TN​ (October, 2015)​ - Manufacturing Day, celebrated each year, is “a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufactures.” Events related to Manufacturing Day, including expos, conferences, plant tours, job fairs, student learning centers, scholarship opportunities, and much more, will be taking place across the country throughout the month of October. There are multiple events taking place in Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (CIS) will have a presence at multiple events on and around Manufacturing Day, which is celebrated Oct. 2 around the country. CIS strives to positively impact Tennessee’s manufacturing sector by providing training and consulting services to manufacturers in order to improve their economic competitiveness and ultimately help improve Tennessee’s economy.

We hope to see you at the following events where you will have a chance to meet some of the CIS staff members:

October 2

Tennessee Manufacturing Excellence Summit – Nashville – Visit our booth and meet our Team: Paul, Jennifer, Norma, Rod, Rickey, and Misty!

Cooper Standard Event – Surgoinsville – Meet Dwaine Raper there!

TCAT Whiteville Event – Whiteville – Meet Keith Groves there!

October 5-6

RAMP Conference – Knoxville (Alcoa) – Meet Beth Phillips there!

October 18-20

Southern Automotive Conference – Nashville – Meet many of our Team Members there!

Keep an eye on our Twitter page for other events we will attend!



MFG DAY addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. By working together during and after MFG DAY, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.

Supported by a group of industry sponsors and co-producers, MFG DAY is designed to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and coordinate a collective chorus of manufacturers with common concerns and challenges. The rallying point for a growing mass movement, MFG DAY empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive. Source:

​Contact UT CIS:  

The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services Partners to Connect Companies to Growth and Innovation Assets​

Nashville, TN​ (September 14, 2015) The Advanced Composites Employment Accelerator of East Tennessee (ACE) is part of the federal Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to bring the public and private sectors together to build on America’s regional strengths and create jobs in key industries of the future. With support from federal agencies including the Economic Development Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Labor, ACE focuses resources to accelerate the growth of the advanced composites cluster in East Tennessee through these key strategies:

  • Improve industry competitiveness and accelerate technology commercialization by connecting companies to technical assistance and advanced composites technologies at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee;
  • Develop workforce skills to meet the needs of the advanced composites industry; and
  • Identify gaps in the supply chain and integrate resources to address market opportunities, technology needs, workforce development needs, and other opportunities to strengthen and grow the cluster.
The University of Tennessee Center Industrial Serviceservices (UT CIS) is a partner in the ACE initiative, collaborating with regional partners to accelerate cluster growth. ​UT CIS works to provide outreach to cluster firms to make them aware of ACE partnership resources, identify opportunities and needs of cluster industries, and help companies integrate innovative technologies and process improvements into their operations.

Through ACE, UT CIS has leveraged the support of federal and regional partners to implement projects with over 20 companies throughout the region. Funding support from EDA has enabled companies to access emerging technologies and research and development support from ORNL and UT that has helped them incorporate new products and technologies into their operations, pursue new market opportunities, and undertake projects that have resulted in improved competitiveness, increased profitability, and new jobs and capital investment in the region.

​Adam Foote
Marketing Manager 

Economic Development Practitioners Graduate from TCED Training Course

Nashville, TN​ (May 26, 2015)​ - Forty-seven economic development professionals from Tennessee and seven other states graduated from the ninth-annual Tennessee Basic Economic Development Course (TBEDC)​ on May 6 in Nashville. More than 20 expert practitioners from Tennessee and other states presented topics on the fundamental concepts, tools, and practices needed to succeed in a complex economic environment. 

These concepts included strategies for job creation and retention, developing a competitive workforce, and managing economic development organizations. This year’s diverse class included chamber of commerce and other local economic and community development organization leaders, elected and appointed officials, and state and regional economic development professionals. The class also included community planners and representatives from utilities, financing organizations, and higher education institutions. “In this fast changing economic environment, we’re pleased to see economic development practitioners and community leaders from across the state and the country investing in their professional development and exploring new approaches to growing jobs and investment in their regions” said Beth Phillips, who leads UT CIS’s economic development programs.​

The four day TBEDC is the foundation course for the Tennessee Certified Economic Developer (TCED) training program offered by the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS).  The course is also one of thirty-two Basic Economic Development Courses in the country that are accredited by the International Economic Development Council. "UT CIS is proud to offer this training in partnership with many federal, state, and regional sponsors to help build our state's capacity to capitalize on its economic and community development potential” said Phillips.

2015 TBEDC Class Photo at LP Field on field 2.JPG 

OSHA Confined Space Update

Nashville, TN​ (May 18, 2015)​ - You probably know that, for some time, OSHA has been talking about a standard for Construction confined spaces. Guess what. It’s here, and it takes effect August 3, 2015. 

One question you might ask is, who is affected by these new requirements? OSHA’s answer is, “All construction employers whose workers may be exposed to confined space hazards.”

Many of you may already be familiar with the General Industry standard for Permit-Required Confined Spaces. If you are, that’s great, but you need to know that the new Construction standards will differ from the General Industry in five key areas. Those differences are:
  1. More detailed provisions requiring coordinated activities when there are multiple employers at the worksite.        

  2. Requiring a competent person to evaluate the work site and identify confined spaces, including permit spaces.

  3. Requiring continuous atmospheric monitoring whenever possible. 

  4. Requiring continuous monitoring of engulfment hazards. For example, when workers are performing work in a storm sewer, a storm upstream from the workers could cause flash flooding. An electronic sensor or observer posted upstream from the work site could alert workers in the space at the first sign of the hazard, giving the workers time to evacuate the space safely.

  5. Allowing for the suspension of a permit, instead of cancellation, in the event of changes from the entry conditions list on the permit or an unexpected event requiring evacuation of the space. The space must be returned to the entry conditions listed on the permit before re-entry.

    This means that if you have employees who will enter a Permit-Required Confined Space you will need to have a written Permit-Required Confined Space program AND you will need to complete a written permit before they can enter the space. There are also requirements for rescue services and training. You get the idea – this is a big deal. 

    Even if your employees will not enter into the permit space, you are still responsible for making sure your employees do not enter into the space. Under the new regulations, controlling contractors will be the primary contact for information about permit spaces at a work-site. 

    For more information, please visit OSHA’s website on the new regulations at The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services is an OSHA Training Institute Education Center and we offer classes on Construction standards.

    UT CIS currently offers a variety of confined space assistance services, including site specific consultation and training programs ranging from basic awareness to NFPA Level 2 Confined Space Rescue. New programs for Construction-Specific Confined Space and Confined Space Competent Person are already under development, and will be offered soon with both Open Enrollment and/or Site Delivered Options.

    Written by: Bryan Lane, OSHA Coordinator, UT Center for Industrial Services​

    For more information, Contact your local Solutions Consultant


    UT CIS Continues First-Quarter Momentum with Two New Hires

    Nashville, TN​ (April 29, 2015)​ - The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS) has positioned itself for growth and continued success with the hire of two Solutions Consultants to fill the East and Southeast Tennessee Region positions.

    Mike Taylor, who formerly held leadership positions with John Deere and PetSafe, and George Aslinger, a Six Sigma Master Black Belt with extensive manufacturing experience, find themselves at the helm of their respective regions, tasked with understanding the challenges and opportunities of manufacturers in their area and developing solutions in performance improvement, regulatory compliance, growth, sustainability, and other areas critical to manufacturers.

    “Coupled with their manufacturing knowledge and expertise, Mike and George’s leadership experience is invaluable to our organization,” Paul Jennings, Executive Director of CIS stated. “The eastern region of our great state has a strong manufacturing sector backed by outstanding economic development organizations and world-class research and innovation assets. Mike and George will help us continue to expand our presence in East Tennessee as we work with our many partners to meet the needs of manufacturers,” said Jennings.

    UT CIS serves over 400 manufacturers in all parts of Tennessee, resulting in $600 million in economic impact for Tennessee companies each year. After over 50 years of serving Tennessee businesses, UT CIS continues to deliver a comprehensive suite of consulting and training services that help manufacturers grow, succeed, and create high quality jobs.

    Taylor and Aslinger complete a team of nine Solutions Consultants for CIS, each focusing on a specific Tennessee region. “Mike and George are already proving to be excellent additions to our extraordinary CIS team” said Jennifer Hagan-Dier, MEP Director and Team Leader, “and we expect that 2015 will be our best year yet.”

    Learn more about UT CIS or meet your local Solutions Consultant​​

    Adam Foote
    Marketing Manager 

    UT Center for Industrial Services Names New Solutions Consultant for East Tennessee

    Nashville, TN​ (April 14, 2015)​ - The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (CIS) has named Michael Taylor as its Solutions Consultant for the East Tennessee region. Before joining CIS earlier this year, Taylor served as Vice-President of Radio Systems Corporation, PetSafe Division since 2005. Prior to his work with PetSafe, he was General Manager for John Deere Power Products’ Greeneville and Loudon plants. Taylor is also a former U.S. Navy officer and Naval Academy graduate.

    “We are extremely pleased that someone with Mike’s business experience and manufacturing background has joined CIS,” said Paul Jennings, CIS Executive Director. Mike’s role is to reach out to East Tennessee manufacturers, take the time to understand each customer’s challenges and opportunities, and work closely with them to develop and implement appropriate solutions. These solutions may include the range of CIS consulting and training services in performance improvement, regulatory compliance, growth and sustainability, as well as connections to University and other manufacturing expertise across the state and country.”

    CIS’ East Tennessee region is one of nine regions across the state that mirror the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development regions, and include Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier and Union counties. “The East Tennessee Solutions Consultant role is particularly important because of the region’s strong manufacturing base, outstanding economic development organizations, and world-class research and innovation assets, including the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” said Jennings.

    Taylor replaces Jim Slizewski, who recently retired from UT after a successful career with CIS. He can be reached at mike.taylor[at], (eight six five -974-2249).

    Written by: Dr. Paul Jennings, Executive Director, UT Center for Industrial Services​

    Tennessee Chamber and Tennessee Manufacturers Association Team Up With Tennessee ECD and DRIVE! for Automotive Industry Strategy Meetings

    Nashville, TN​ (March​ 18, 2015)​The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Tennessee Manufacturers Association are teaming up with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and DRIVE! in promoting the state’s ever-growing automotive manufacturing industries.

    To accomplish this task, these orga​nizations are sponsoring engagement strategy meetings with automotive industry leaders in each of the state’s grand divisions on March 26 and April 2.

    “Bringing together state officials and automotive industry leaders is key to strengthening this powerful economic engine that benefits all of Tennessee,” said Catherine Glover, President of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Tennessee Manufacturers Association. Glover added that the sponsors of these sessions are interested in assessing the needs of auto industry leaders, as well as sharing with them what is already being focused on by the state and other business leaders.

    These strategy meetings are open to all those interested in Tennessee’s automotive manufacturing industries, with a request to register by sending an email to carolyn.davis[at]tnchamber[dot]org. Attendees of these sessions will also learn about recent studies issued by Brookings and the Southern Automotive Research Alliance regarding the state’s automotive industry as well as Tennessee being designated as one of five “LIFT” states and part of DRIVE!, an initiative to accelerate the development of the growing automotive cluster in the Tennessee Valley.

    The date and location for these strategy meetings are as follows: 

    Jackson, April 2,  10-12 p.m. CST - Doubletree Hotel, 1770 US 45 Bypass

    Nashville, April 2,  3-5 p.m. CST - Nashville Public Library, 615 Church Street

    About the Tennessee Chamber:

    The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry​ has been the voice of Tennessee businesses and manufacturers, representing them on matters of state policy, legislation and regulation since 1912.​

    UT Center for Industrial Services awarded MEP program

    Nashville, TN​ (March 4, 2015) - We are proud to announce that the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UTCIS) has been designated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to continue its highly successful Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Partnership (TMEP) program.  The award increases the TMEP budget and expands UTCIS’ outreach and services to manufacturers across the state.

    “We put together a proposal that addressed NIST Goals and demonstrated why UTCIS is the best place to house the TMEP program,” Jennings said.  “Throughout this process, we had tremendous participation and support from CIS staff, UT Institute for Public Service, and our many partners throughout Tennessee.   Ultimately, this award gives us even greater capacity to help Tennessee manufacturers grow, succeed and create high quality jobs.”

    UTCIS serves over 400 manufacturers annually in all parts of Tennessee, helping companies adopt solutions in performance improvement, innovation, regulatory compliance, sustainability and other areas that are critical to growth and success.   UTCIS efforts produce $600 million in economic impact for Tennessee companies each year.  For more information on the UTCIS award and our services for manufacturers, please contact Adam Foote.​ 

    Written by: Dr. Paul Jennings, Executive Director, UT Center for Industrial Services

    UT CIS wins reauthorization of its TMEP, more funding and reduced match​ by Tom Ballard​