by Wendy Dixon
Updated 11 months ago
Tallahassee / Leon County
The past year was "historic" for Tallahassee and Leon County, highlighted by economic development successes that will affect the region for years, says Sue Dick, president and CEO of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee / Leon County: The real estate pendulum continues its upswing, with new neighborhoods emerging and several expanding; commercial properties are attracting new investors, including Whole Foods, New Leaf Market, Bass Pro Shops, Trader Joe's, Dick's Sporting Goods and Urban Outfitters; the $30-million CollegeTown entertainment and residential district near the FSU campus was completed; Capital Regional Medical Center and Tallahassee Memorial Hospital both expanded; TMH added a residency program in internal medicine, with room for 24 doctors.
The year also saw the launch of Imagine Tallahassee, a collaborative grassroots economic development initiative that provided a comprehensive plan for enhancing the overall community via close to $100 million in the potential sales tax extension."Tallahassee and Leon County have made significant strides toward enhancing the business climate in the region," Dick says. "And the arrival of these companies and initiatives proves that the region is focused on ensuring businesses not only succeed, but flourish."
Kaye Scholer law firm: The firm selected Tallahassee among a host of other cities for its back office operations, leading to more than 100 new jobs.
Hamilton / Suwannee / Madison Counties
Hamilton County's largest employer, Potash Corp., is closing its chemical plant and laying off 350 employees. White Springs is one of four rural communities identified by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Competitive Florida Partnership, a rural community development initiative.
In Suwannee County, construction of the Klausner Lumber One sawmill, a $130-million facility, will create about 700 jobs, with the first phase to be completed by August, says Dennis Cason, economic development consultant for Suwannee County. The sawmill will hire about 350 permanent workers over three years.
Madison County Memorial Hospital is building a 25-bed critical access hospital. Additionally, Annett Bus Lines opened a facility."We've made great strides in putting Madison in the position to be available and competitive for economic development," says Crawford Powell, principal for Impact Development Group, which consults with small businesses and communities on economic development.Madison citizens voted for a tax for a Faith Community Hospital, under construction now. "The fact that they were willing to tax themselves, that is a telling sign for the type of leadership they have in Madison County; it is vital for economic development."
Jefferson / Gadsden / Wakulla Counties
Tractor Supply opened in Jefferson County with five employees. Harrell Nut Co. Is opening a pecan processing facility, hiring 50 full-time employees during its first phase and 200 upon expansion, says Melanie Mays, executive director of the Monticello-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. The Economic Development Council received funding for the Jefferson County Vision Action Plan to develop an approach to attract businesses.
Quincy Joist closed, a blow to the area. But manufacturing company Applied Fiber continues to see more demand for its technologies, particularly those related to oil, gas and mining, says David Gardner, president of the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce. "The last few years have been very challenging for Gadsden County with the closing of Quincy Joist And the Printing House," he says. "But we will be making several positive announcements in the near future. I believe we have turned the corner."
The Florida Rural Broadband Alliance is bringing the middle-mile broadband network, part of a $24-million project that will bring broadband internet access to 15 counties, including Wakulla, says Jim Brook, executive director of Opportunity Florida. Tallahassee Community College's Wakulla Environmental Institute is offering courses in a new certificate program that is training entrepreneurs in oyster farming.
Lafayette / Taylor / Gilchrist Counties
Pioneer Day and the spring festival, both of which typically draw nearly 20,000 visitors, saw fewer numbers last year. The Lafayette County Museum of History is in its early stages and needs community support, says Vi Johnson, vice president of the Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce.
Doctors' Memorial Hospital and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare finalized a governance agreement in Taylor County.Pulp and paper company Georgia- Pacific, based in Atlanta, merged with Memphis-based Buckeye Technologies in a $1.5 billion deal. The merger included the sale of the Buckeye mill in Perry.
Gilchrist County welcomed a new McDonald's, which hired about 50 employees, most of whom are part time. Two new Family Dollar stores add 15 jobs.