The annual banquet of the Union County Chamber of Commerce is a celebration of accomplishments and a look toward the future. It’s also a fundraiser for the group that promotes tourism as it recruits and supports local businesses.
Randy Boyd brought star power as the guest speaker. He recently resigned as commissioner of the state’s Economic and Community Development Department.
The state’s biggest challenge, he said, is training workers for the jobs of the future. “It’s the best time in our state’s history, but not for everyone.”
Boyd probably will run for governor when Bill Haslam’s term ends in 2018. He and Haslam share a boyish enthusiasm for governing; both are wealthy enough to work without pay; both are visionary. Boyd is credited with starting Knox Achieves, which became Tennessee Achieves and led to the state’s program of free college tuition at community colleges for Tennessee graduates.
He told of a trade mission to Israel in which he and Haslam got a private visit with Shimon Peres, who died in September 2016. “We were mesmerized and came away wishing we had taken notes,” he said.
Peres told them he’s often asked what he considers his greatest accomplishment. “It will be what I do tomorrow.” And his biggest failure? “That I did not dream big enough.”
Peres said we are old when we have more accomplishments to list than dreams ahead; we are young when we have more dreams ahead than accomplishments. If this was Boyd’s takeaway from meeting the world’s most senior statesman, how can he not run for governor?
(Note: Haslam told Boyd that Peres had “started at 30,000 feet and helicoptered up.”)
Boyd was raised in South Knoxville. At age 19, he was the first in his family to graduate from college. He’s been married for 30 years with two adult sons. He founded Radio Systems Corporation, which produces PetSafe products.
■ U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said the winds of change are blowing in Washington. “We are reversing regulations that are hurting businesses,” he said, adding that it’s important to get the “replace” part right when repealing and replacing Obamacare.
He said tax reform is ahead. “America is winning again.”