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In the late 1990s, industry leaders identified a critical need for qualified people. Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)'s Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program was born, and local producers have played a major role in its growth.

Leading local concrete suppliers such as Metro Ready Mix Inc., Irving Materials, Hoover Inc., and Horizon Ready Mix have made substantial contributions of equipment and materials for various hands-on projects. Other industry professionals have helped out, too.

The CIM Patrons promote the program, maintain the curriculum, and set up meetings and workshops. Industry leaders serve on a CIM Steering Committee, which serves as the program's "eyes and ears" in the real world. The steering committee meets with the patrons board annually to keep the patrons abreast of industry changes and needs. Patrons attempt to visit every class in the program on a monthly basis and get feedback from students.

The industry isn't resting on its laurels in terms of higher education. The steering committee has held a series of meetings during the past year to develop a "champions program" in which industry leaders will aid recruitment efforts in their respective states. Perhaps more importantly, efforts are underway to find more universities across the United States to institute the CIM program.