We packed our September general meeting with insights into the status of Hillsborough County and the United States’ position in the world. County Commissioner Al Higginbotham kicked off the evening, sharing his own story of grit and resilience as he recovered from severe injuries after a tree fell and crushed him. Doctors thought he would never walk again, but he worked through years of pain to regain partial use of his legs. He now is a leader of the community, and that community is doing well.
Higginbotham explained that Hillsborough is thriving financially with more big events and companies looking to locate to the area. Elected officials in the county are working to attract additional lucrative ventures. Jobs are available here, too, largely in manufacturing. However, the biggest hurdle to attracting or retaining companies is a lack of a skilled local workforce, which should be addressed, Higginbotham explained. The commissioner is running now for Commission District 7.
Following that peek into local affairs, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Evelio “EJ” Otero, talked about the worldwide perception of the United States. Unlike the news from Hillsborough County, this outlook is bleak. Otero said our country has lost all credibility in the Middle East, which is turning to Russia as a leader in the region. Syria was the last nail in the coffin for the United States’s reputation, he added, though the problem began with our lack of legitimate policy on Egypt. Barack Obama has done more to hurt the prestige of America than any other president. Otero worked at both U.S. Central and Special Operations commands, serving in roles that allowed him to build international relations. His opinions are not solely his own perceptions, but cross-checked against his many contacts around the world who can give perspective on prevailing ideas in their own regions.
But the downward spiral of global opinion does not stop the former colonel from leveraging his international knowledge to assist the Tampa Bay area. His group Course of Action Foundation aims to increase economic development in the region and throughout the state, especially through the facilitation of trade with Latin America. Catch up on more from Otero and Higginbotham by reviewing our tweets from the meeting via @TBYR.
As if those two speakers didn’t offer enough great content, the meeting also featured brief presentations from candidates for school board and positions on the Republican Executive Committee. We also reviewed TBYR’s new elected and appointed board members. Our organization has many committees that can use your talents. Please volunteer to help make this our best year ever.
If you missed the September meeting, we will see you at our next one on October 22. If you’re not a member yet, join up! TBYR is the place in Hillsborough County to meet today’s leaders and become tomorrow’s.