Elected officials and community and business leaders welcomed former secretary of state Colin Powell as the keynote speaker at the Collin County Business Alliance’s fourth anniversary luncheon at the Capital One Plano Conference Center Dec. 10.

During his speech, Powell spoke about the importance of leadership in today’s businesses and in the community as a whole. The CCBA was formed in 2011 for corporate leaders to take action in the various issues facing Collin County, said CCBA Chairman Sanjiv Yajnik.

“In our community every single constituent is essential,” he said. “Our community is made up of vibrant people in the community that want to do something. Every single person is absolutely essential.”

Since the CCBA began, it has held regular policy forums and summits to bring together hundreds of leaders from government and the business sector to discuss challenges and address policy issues facing the region. Powell said he had been studying the CCBA for the last couple weeks to understand more about the area and the association’s mission. As he read more about the organization, Powell said he became passionate about CCBA’s mission to have business leaders take responsibility in how they shape their community.

“In the last several years, you’ve [CCBA has] come together to talk about important issues and break down barriers between companies and cities and towns,” Powell said.

Powell went on to tell stories of his leadership experiences, both during his time in the military and while serving as secretary of the state. He also offered input on the status of the government today.

“I have been in government at the senior level [for] 35-40 years, and I’ve never seen congress this dysfunctional,” he said. “I’ve never seen such polarization between the democrats and the republicans. I’ve never seen such lack of leadership.”

Powell said the problem causing the bipartisan dysfunction is that politicians are not spending enough time together. He spoke about how the founding fathers, while they had differing views, spent time with one another to write the United States constitution. Powell equated that type of cooperation to the CCBA’s mission.

“If you have a team with many different parts you have to have a clear vision of where you’re going so our champions will follow that vision,” Powell said.

Yajnik said he was honored to have Powell come speak at the anniversary luncheon.

“Here is a man who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps,” he said. “He is a self-made man and achieved things that we could only aspire to think about.”

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