My View by Jake Kiker, Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Committee on Entrepreneurship Chair
Tallahassee is a city boldly forging its future through the intentional synthesis of infrastructure and entrepreneurship. Over the past half-decade, our city has made sizable investments into the infrastructure needed to lay the foundation for a higher level of economic vitality.
During that time, there has also been an entrepreneurial awakening. There are more entrepreneurs taking risks and finding value today than ever in Tallahassee, and for some, the attribution is the environment created by critical infrastructure improvements.
This type of business opportunity environment — uncertain, but potentially poised for growth with changes evident or imminent — is one that many entrepreneurs desire. And seeing early activity in a particular business segment (especially actual monetary investment) will often drive the decision to quickly move on an idea.
In my opinion, this ideal business environment is analogous to the physical environment that we are seeing take shape in parts of our community. Growing levels of infrastructure investment are often an early indicator that an area may be poised for new ideas, revitalization and development.
In particular, I can speak to the areas around Cascades Park, FAMU Way and South Monroe (“SoMo”). I live there, and have for almost a decade. And there may be no better example of this amalgamation of investment and opportunity than the new Capital Cascades Bridge and the assets will continue to connect.
For many entrepreneurs, residents and visitors, Railroad Square Art Park/Gaines Street and Cascades Park are the bookends to the most vibrant, creative and engaging assets existing in our community. These assets are connected by the beautifully redone FAMU Way, and now the Capital Cascades Bridge.
Today you can spend an entire day and night eating, drinking, shopping and learning from one end to the other — completely independent of the need for automotive transportation — enjoying all the areas have to offer with an assortment of old and new businesses along the way.
And these critical connections are just the beginning. Imagine utilizing the Capital Cascades Trail, taking your bike from Cascades Park all the way to St. Marks. Soon it will all be possible, due to these investments.
In Tallahassee, we talk a lot about building a community where the most talented will want to be. There are different parts to that equation – education, jobs, income, housing, etc. – but one variable important to many we hope will make Tallahassee their home is the presence of just such a vibrant, urban, physical environment, and the opportunity for continued revitalization within it.
Our local government is investing in a bold future for our community by focusing on the possibilities of planned investments. Our local entrepreneurs are recognizing that commitment and are reacting to the potential for prosperity in Tallahassee.
I am proud to call SoMo home and proud to live in a city that supports investment in infrastructure and the building of opportunity for entrepreneurs, existing businesses and residents alike.