From Education to Economic Development to the Governor’s Mansion?


Photo: Randy Boyd speaks at the announcement of Forward Air’s corporate headquarters expansion in Greene County, Nov. 16, 2016. Scott Niswonger, left, is the Boyd campaign’s treasurer.

By Collin Brooks

Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd visited Northeast State Community College March 16 to officially announce his candidacy for governor, a candidacy informed by his time working in the current administration in Nashville.

Boyd believes he has the bona fides to be a legitimate candidate based on his private-sector success and what he has helped Bill Haslam accomplish over the last several years. Boyd joined the Haslam administration in 2013 as a special advisor to the governor for higher education, helping create the state’s Drive to 55 initiative, the Tennessee Promise and Reconnect programs and other initiatives to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025.

From there, Boyd was named commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD). During his two-year tenure in that post, Tennessee was recognized as first in the nation for advanced industry job growth, first in foreign direct investment, and second in the growth of household median incomes. ECD has also set several records, generating nearly 50,000 new job commitments and nearly $11 billion in capital investment in the state.

Boyd’s private-sector success began with Radio Systems Inc., a company he founded in 1991.

The Boyd campaign’s treasurer is Scott Niswonger, who said he jumped at the opportunity to have a role in Boyd’s bid for election. The two have educational foundations that have worked together for more than a decade and the two grew even closer during Boyd’s time as commissioner. Boyd was commissioner as Forward Air, the company Niswonger founded, negotiated to expand its corporate headquarters in Greene County.

“He is a hard driving business person who believes in giving back to his community and to his region,” Niswonger said of Boyd. “As he ran ECD for the state of Tennessee we became even closer and I saw the successes that he was having by his personal input in booking business and industry in the state of Tennessee and for those reasons I support him 100 percent.”

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