UT Institute for Public Service Receives National Manufacturing Community Designation

The Drive for the Future proposal submitted by the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service (IPS) and its partners was one of 12 nationwide selected as manufacturing communities, which elevates their consideration for $1.3 billion in future federal funding and technical assistance. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the designees in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) is a federal initiative to accelerate resurgence of manufacturing in targeted regions. Winning designees showed that their IMCP region ranks in the top third of the country in either employment or number of firms within their key manufacturing technology or supply chain. Regions also demonstrated a strong partnership capacity, commitments by stakeholders, and a viable strategy for accelerating private investment in the manufacturing supply chain that will result in increased economic prosperity in the region.

IPS, representing the university, took the lead in the Drive for the Future consortium in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Board of Regents, state automotive manufacturing associations, state manufacturing extension partnerships, regional economic development organizations, and others. The consortium, under the direction of IPS Assistant Vice President Chuck Shoopman, submitted a proposal focused on growth and development of a dynamic automotive supply chain that exists within a 69-county, four-state core region of the Tennessee Valley. The region ranks fifth in automotive employment in the country with 94,000 people employed among 582 establishments, including original equipment manufacturers General Motors, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

“This project documents the importance of manufacturing, specifically the automotive sector, to our state and region. This affiliation with our Institute for Public Service and its partners will help both the automotive supply chain and other advanced industries benefit from the world-class research assets available in this region” said UT President Dr. Joe DiPietro. “This designation is a great opportunity for IPS and its partners to enhance manufacturing opportunities throughout the region, making a difference for Tennessee and its residents.” 

In the proposal the consortium assessed the current industrial ecosystem, identified gaps, and outlined strategies to transform the region’s automotive supply chain, and the communities in which these suppliers operate, to become the best place in the world for automotive research and innovation.

“We know that with Tennessee’s economy, location and quality of life, this is an ideal location for manufacturers,” said Dr. Mary Jinks, vice president of public service. “This designation proves that this region’s dense and diverse production networks and depth of innovation assets positions it to be one of the world’s leaders in automotive manufacturing.”



Susan Robertson, UT Institute for Public Service

Susan.robertson@tennessee.edu or (865) 974-8518

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