Economic commissioner optimistic about Tennessee’s future

Economic commissioner optimistic about Tennessee’s future

Commissioner Randy Boyd says he thinks the present is the best time in Tennessee history.

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd visited Franklin on Tuesday morning with a positive message about what is going on all over the state.

“I’ve been saying recently this is the greatest time in Tennessee history,” he said during a presentation to Breakfast with the Mayors, a quarterly lecture series hosted by Franklin Tomorrow. “It feels hard to say that with what you read in the newspapers everyday about what’s going in our world, but the fact is it’s true. We have more Tennesseans than there have ever been in our state history.”

Boyd, a Knoxville businessman, started working for the state in 2015. Gov. Bill Haslam charged him with recruiting industries and businesses to Tennessee.

Boyd said he liked to use Franklin and the Williamson County market as an example of how successful the state could be with the area becoming home to several corporations and expansions across several industries. Williamson has one of the fastest economic developments in the country. Although, at least 21 counties across the state are experiencing a certain level of stress.

“We have a couple of buildings in Knoxville that I own, and Franklin is a niche for what we wish Knoxville could be like,” he said. “When I am traveling the state, I am going to talk about Franklin. It’s an inspirational morning already today. You have such a great turnout for such a small town. It’s the kind of involvement that makes a city like this happen.”

Boyd said the linchpin of the state’s success revolved around education – university level degrees or technical training that yields a certificate. Right now, the state has a plan in action for trying increase the amount of Tennesseans who have post-secondary education. Gov. Haslam’s plan aims to raise the proportion of Tennesseans with higher education to at least 55 percent by the year 2025 by offering free tuition to the state’s community colleges and technology schools to graduates of Tennesse high schools. Roughly 20,000 high school students don’t go to college every year in Tennessee.

“I remember when we were talking about what we need to do to get to the 55 percent,” he said. “I remember answering that the biggest challenge we have as a state is our culture. We have too low expectations for ourselves and our children.”

Education makes a direct link to the talent pool companies look for when they want to fulfill jobs, Boyd said. The state currently has more than 25,000 jobs in that pipeline.

Boyd ended that Tennessee still has strides it can make in economic development, setting up offices in different countries across the globe, a move that could make its way back to Williamson.

“We are opening up offices in Korea and China,” he said. “If you don’t have boots on the ground, you’re not competing.”

Emily West covers Franklin and Williamson County government and schools for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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