TNECD Announces Keynote Speakers for 2017 Governor’s Conference

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 | 01:00pm

U.S. Senators and former UT football player to address Commissioner’s and Governor’s Luncheons

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development today announced that U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and former University of Tennessee football player Inky Johnson will be the keynote speakers during the 2017 Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development. 

Johnson will be the keynote speaker during the Commissioner’s Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Alexander and Corker will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Gov. Bill Haslam during the Governor’s Luncheon on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.

Hundreds of state and local officials, business leaders and economic development professionals will convene at the Gatlinburg Convention Center for the annual event held Oct. 26-27.

“Each one of these incredible individuals has their own relationship with the state of Tennessee and their own take on success in our state,” TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. “I am thrilled to have Inky Johnson speak during the Commissioner’s Luncheon. His take on teamwork and determination will be a great start to the conference. Tennessee is known to be a state that works together and Inky is a perfect fit to speak to that. 

“It is an honor to have both Sen. Alexander and Sen. Corker participate in the conference. Economic development and foreign investment are currently among a few of the focus points in Washington. I look forward to hearing both senators discuss what is going on in Washington and how that impacts the state of Tennessee.” 

Alexander was first elected to represent Tennessee in the Senate in 2002. He has been re-elected twice and currently serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He has also been elected three times to be chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. Before serving as Senator, Alexander was a two-term Governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987.

Corker was first elected to the Senate in 2006 and currently serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is an active member of the Banking Committee and the Budget Committee. Prior to serving in the Senate, Corker was Tennessee's commissioner of finance and mayor of Chattanooga. Before entering public service, he spent most of his life in business, giving him a unique perspective that has allowed him play a critical role in recruiting companies to the Volunteer State. 

Inky Johnson is a former University of Tennessee football player turned motivational speaker. During a game in 2006, a routine tackle turned into a life-threatening injury. Now, Inky travels all over the world motivating others with his story. Whether the topic is leadership, teamwork or perseverance, Inky inspires his audiences to embrace the challenges of life. Inky has a master’s degree in sports psychology from the University of Tennessee. He devotes much of his time mentoring athletes and underprivileged youth.

For more information or to register for the 2017 Governor’s Conference, please visit

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Find us on the web: Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd. Like us on Facebook: