UT GSCI Brings Executives Together to Review Southeast’s Supply Chain Potential

January 22, 2015

Thirty-one of the nation’s leading supply chain professionals met Jan. 8-9 in Charleston, South Carolina, to discuss the Southeast’s bourgeoning role as a major corridor for manufacturing and logistics. Attendees included representatives from Boeing, Amazon, Wal-mart, Pilot Flying J and Mondelēz International, among others.

The group converged as part of the University of Tennessee’s Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI) advisory board, which brings real-world issues to the forefront of one of the nation’s leading supply chain curriculums. During preliminary sessions, executives toured the Boeing facility and the Charleston port, examining the potential growth of each entity and its effects on the region.

Boeing South Carolina, founded in 2009, is the company’s first airplane assembly location outside of Puget Sound, and many credit its success with competitor Airbus’s decision to build an assembly plant in Alabama last year. Boeing employs more than 3,500 in South Carolina and is already undergoing expansion projects.

The Charleston port is a major trade center, loading and unloading vessels faster than New York or Los Angeles/Long Beach. There are plans to take the harbor to 52 feet, making it the deepest port on the East Coast. The project will prepare Charleston for completion of the Panama Canal expansion, which industry insiders estimate could bring 50 percent of the Asian shipping trade to East Coast ports.

The growth of these facilities points to the potential of the Southeast as a supply chain hub, despite a decades-long trend favoring emerging economies. Research from the GSCI shows the cost-cutting strategies behind offshoring harmed profits in the long term. The increasingly global nature of supply chains demands a more comprehensive view of business, with an emphasis on mitigating risk.

Demand for broader-thinking supply chain professionals informs the second greatest concern for executives at the conference: talent acquisition. The industry needs more workers at all levels, and new employees must conceptualize the supply chain from end to end to stay ahead of risk inherit in the global environment.

Daniel Myers, EVP of global integrated supply chain for Mondelēz International stated, “We work with UT on research, but we also hope to influence young minds and prepare current and potential future employees.” Myers is not alone. Recruitment and professional development needs dominated the discussion.

UT’s Global Supply Chain Institute is an internationally recognized thought leader in supply chain research. Its curriculum is ranked third in the nation. For more information visit: http://globalsupplychaininstitute.utk.edu

Contact: Katie Bahr, writer/publicist, (865) 974-3589, katiebahr@utk.edu