The community with the best talent will always win, Carlos Phillips, president of the Greenville (South Carolina) Chamber of Commerce, told the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce's Rooster Booster Breakfast on Thursday.
"Focus on retaining talent and recruiting more of it," the 1986 graduate of Owensboro High School, told the crowd at the Owensboro Convention Center.
Phillips, who has been president of the Greenville chamber for the past three years, said, "Downtown Owensboro is beautiful. This place has been transformed."
He said the Greenville chamber works from a "sane center."
Comparing politics to a football field, Phillips said the far left has the first 40 yards on one side and the far right, the first 40 yards on the other.
But, he said he likes the center -- the 20 yards between those extremes.
Working from the "sane center" gets more people involved and more accomplished, Phillips said.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky, where he played football, Phillips came back to Owensboro and taught at Owensboro Community & Technical College for a couple of years.
Then, he moved to Louisville and sold "bag phones" -- early cell phones -- for BellSouth Mobility.
BellSouth moved him to Lexington, Birmingham and Atlanta.
Missing home, Phillips called former Owensboro Mayor David Adkisson, president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and asked if he knew of any jobs that would bring him back to Kentucky.
Adkisson recommended working for a chamber of commerce.
After resisting the idea at first, Phillips landed a job with the Louisville chamber and "fell in love with the industry."
After five years there, he moved to the state chamber for another five.
Phillips said Greenville, South Carolina, today has 500,000 people living in the county and is a "global community" with several international companies.
He said he pushes regionalism and would like to "get an eraser and erase county lines."
Phillips joked that he was looking for Kirk Kirkpatrick and the "Good News Phone" on Thursday.
Kirkpatrick retired as emcee of the Rooster Booster Breakfast in January 2014, after 37 years.
He used the "Good News Phone" to highlight good news in the community.
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, firstname.lastname@example.org.