May 26, 2020
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Florida's Capital for Business

Heidi Tyline King | 2/28/2020

In the Capital City, the OEV rallies stakeholders together to invest in and cultivate the area’s evolving economic development landscape by fostering collaboration, idea generation, business formation, and sustainable growth.

Being the Capital City comes with a certain reputation. Even so, Tallahassee- Leon County, while still embracing its “government town” roots, has grown to be so much more. Strong infrastructure, culture, natural resources, diversity, and the presence of a vibrant creative class are reshaping Tallahassee into one of the South’s most progressive cities and sought-after places to live. Where else in the country do you have access to such an educated population, preeminent research from two esteemed universities, and a world-class research lab — all within a 10-minute commute?

A Unified Vision

Until a few years ago, different entities were so busy promoting the great things going on that there was no unified vision for shepherding the city forward into the 21st century. That changed with the creation of the Tallahassee- Leon County Office of Economic Vitality (OEV).

“Economic vitality comes by recognizing, developing, and embracing all the assets of this great community in a way that fuels excitement, innovation, and positive growth while protecting the beauty and quality of life precious to each of us,” says Cristina Paredes, who has directed the OEV since 2018. “And economic development is the natural outgrowth that subsequently fuels sustainability. By focusing on this vitality we can foster a strong business climate and overall growth of our community.”

In three years, the OEV has broken down silos, eliminated duplication of efforts in different industries, formed connections between academia, business, manufacturing, health care, research, and government.

“The goal of our office is to implement a collaborative, inclusive approach to economic vitality,” says Paredes. “We serve as that connector between local and state economic development, workforce development, and business development partners to ensure Tallahassee-Leon County remains competitive for new businesses and opportunities.”

Today, the OEV is hard at work implementing a conscious, measured, strategic plan for promoting and elevating Tallahassee’s holistic, vibrant, and diverse economy through business formation, business expansion, talent development, tech transfer, and support for minority women and small businesses.

Impacting the Future

“When I look at our community, I am excited about the opportunities that are right before us,” says Paredes. “We are seeing increases in private sector job growth, a vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship scene, and a commitment to enhance our quality of life through several new infrastructure and placemaking projects. The future is truly magnetic, and I hope others discover what makes Tallahassee-Leon County attractive.”

The OEV is focused specifically on four sectors that have the greatest potential to impact Tallahassee-Leon County’s economic future:

• Applied sciences and innovation maximizing world-class resources as Innovation Park, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, and two outstanding research universities.

• Manufacturing and transportation/ logistics to capture the economic benefits of innovation through manufacturing in the area.

• Professional services and information tech to nurture the area’s growing information and communications technology cluster and ensure that local businesses have access to exemplary legal, accounting, and other business services needed to grow and innovate.

• Health care to establish Tallahassee-Leon County’s leadership as a regional hub for research, development, and patient care.

Leon County by the Numbers

â?" Employment in Q3 2019 has increased 2.8% year-over-year, at 191,477 total.

â?" Unemployment compensation claims in Q3 2019 decreased 6.7% compared to Q3 2018.

â?" Tallahassee International Airport hosted 212,788 passengers during Q3 2019, up 8.5% since last year.

â?" Taxable sales for Q2 2019 were $1.34 billion, up 8.1% since Q2 2018.

â?" Tallahassee exports in 2018 were the highest of any year during the 2000s: $270.8 million, dominated by manufactured machinery.

Tags: Northwest, Custom Content, Tallahassee Community Portrait

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