August 12, 2022

Community Portrait

Tallahassee - A Community Portrait

An In-Depth Look at Florida's Capital

Charlotte Crane | 10/1/2010

Economic Life

Capitol, Tallahassee
The Capitol [Photo: Ray Stanyard]


Government continues to dominate Tallahassee’s economy. The most recent Census data show that government workers make up nearly a third of the entire workforce, ranging from state agency bureaucrats to legislative aides to university employees to Leon County school district employees. In addition, government-related lobbying, law and business and professional associations such as the Florida Bar, Florida Chamber and Florida TaxWatch account for substantial employment in the city and a notable portion of its professional class.


Collectively, Tallahassee’s three major state schools comprise more than 60,000 students and more than 13,000 employees, concentrated in a small geographic area. In addition to the major state schools, Tallahassee is also home to a branch of for-profit Keiser University and Lively Technical Center, which offers vocational training in aviation and other fields.

The state schools:

» Florida State University — The school has some 40,000 students in 15 colleges, including medicine and law, that offer more than 275 degree programs. FSU awards more than 2,000 graduate and professional degrees each year. New President Eric J. Barron has beefed up the school’s fundraising, raising more than $50 million for academics last year through the FSU Foundation.

FSU campus
Florida State University campus

» Florida A&M University — The historically black school has more than 10,500 full-time students and offers more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It has a law school in Orlando and sites in Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa for its pharmacy program. Research funding at the university now exceeds $50 million.

» Tallahassee Community College — The school, which primarily serves Leon, Gadsden and Wakulla counties, sends some 75% of its graduates on to Florida universities. It has around 15,000 full-time students and operates the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy, a training facility for police and other law enforcement officers. It also recently opened the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center, which will help train workers for local manufacturing and industrial businesses. In addition, Flagler College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Barry University and Saint Leo University hold classes at TCC and offer students the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree without leaving the TCC campus.

FSU professor Robert Holton developed Taxol.

FSU’s research capacity is a major economic asset. While best known for professor Robert Holton’s development of Taxol, the cancer-fighting drug, the university’s research arms also encompass the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Center for Advanced Power Systems and Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion. The first two institutions are housed at Innovation Park, a 208-acre campus near the schools. FAMU and TCC are also active in research — the three schools recently secured a total of $17.5 million for defense-related research, including work related to electric ships, explosives detection and a training center at TCC.

The High-Performance Materials Institute at Florida State University develops cost-effective high-performance materials and systems. [Photo: Ray Stanyard]


In addition to the highly regarded Capital Health Plan, a regional HMO with 113,000 members and more than 400 employees, Tallahassee’s health sector includes Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, Florida’s seventh-largest hospital with nearly 3,500 employees, including 500 physicians, Capital Regional Medical Center and the 10-year-old FSU Medical School, which focuses on educating doctors to serve the state’s rural, geriatric and other underserved populations.

M1A2 Abrams Tank
General Dynamics Land Systems builds electronic
components for the M1A2 Abrams tank.

General Dynamics Land Systems employs more than 300 in Tallahassee building electronic components for the M1A2 Abrams tank and M2 Bradley infantry-fighting vehicle. In addition, a division of Elbit Systems manufactures and markets “rugged” communications products, including radios and computers, for both military and commercial customers. Near Tallahassee in Wakulla County,

St. Marks Powder, a division of General Dynamics, makes smokeless gun propellants.


Tourism officials claim nearly $1 billion in tourism spending and 15,000 tourism-related jobs. Much of that activity, however, is associated with the annual legislative session, and tourism officials are trying to boost visitor counts by building on the area’s history, natural assets and affinity for sports [“Sports Business”]. Mission San Luis is a striking reconstruction of one of a chain of missions the Spanish built in the 1600s. Along with the state Capitol, the area’s historical attractions include the John G. Riley Center/Museum of African American History and Culture and other African-American historical sites and archives. Nearby lakes, rivers, coastline and hills provide water-related recreational opportunities. Meanwhile, two new hotels, Aloft and the Hotel Duval, have beefed up the area’s 6,000-room capacity and provided some modern flavor to downtown, where the mainstay Governors Inn has been renovated. A convention center is high on the wish list for Visit Tallahassee.


Transportation and logistics are one of the Tallahassee Economic Development Council’s “targeted areas.” Slightly more than 30 flights a day — including a recently added U.S. Airways non-stop to Washington, D.C. — fly out of Tallahassee Regional Airport, but air service remains a challenge. Recent additions at the airport include a service center for Honda Jets, Piper, Cessna and Cirrus aircraft opened by aviation services provider Flightline Group, and the 189,000-sq.-ft. Airport Commerce Center.

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Rays pitcher JP Feyereisen encourages Tampa Bay area kids to read
Rays pitcher JP Feyereisen encourages Tampa Bay area kids to read

Rays pitcher JP Feyereisen reads with kids at the Largo Public Library as part of the "Reading with the Rays" program. The event hits close to home for Feyereisen, who went to school to be a teacher and plans to become a teacher and coach once his baseball career is over.

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