Usually, when the Guilford County Board of Commissioners swears in new commissioners after an election, there’s more than one coming on board.

However, this year there was only one new commissioner, so on the morning of Monday, Dec. 5, at the swearing-in ceremony, the focus was clearly on new District 3 County Commissioner Pat Tillman.

After the special first Monday in December commissioners meeting that’s held once every two years, Tillman said he’d been very impressed by the way he has been welcomed to county government and he complimented the county’s “organizational proficiencies.”

“It’s been great,” he said so far of his experience moving from the Guilford County Board of Education to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.

Tillman left the school board in the middle of his second four-year term on that board.

Even though Tillman just took his seat on the Board of Commissioners, he already has plenty of ideas about how to advance the interests of the county and its residents.

He said much of it starts with the megasite at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

“What I want to really work on is how we leverage our airport,” Tillman said.  “You think about if you’re in a county – whether it’s Robeson or Mecklenburg – and ask what are your strengths that make you unique and special?  No one has a parallel runway with 1,000 acres. That’s how we can beat Georgia and Tennessee.”

Tillman also said workforce development is critical for the county given the number of new, large projects that are opening up in the area.

He said one goal is to create a stronger local workforce by “dovetailing” the capabilities of Guilford County Schools, local apprentice programs, Guilford Technical Community College workplace programs and others.

We need more apprenticeships, Tillman said, adding that during the pandemic the graduation numbers from those programs sank lower.