by Rick Moore, Tallahassee Democrat “My View”
It’s truly an honor to lead the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce this year.
I was officially handed the gavel on Oct. 7. Our immediate past-chair, Ed Murray of NAI TALCOR, provided exceptional guidance throughout his leadership year. As a direct result of his efforts, the Chamber begins this new year on a positive trajectory, focused on serving its 1,400 member business and their 50,000 employees. Ed’s passion for Tallahassee, his experience and knowledge of the issues and his ability to communicate and connect enabled the Chamber to continue to raise its profile in the community. I look forward to building on that foundation of accomplishments.
Our primary focus for this year is on the three following areas:
• Advancing the economic competitiveness of our community.
Our community and local businesses are beginning to grow, thanks to a better economic climate and unprecedented collaboration among our business, education and governmental leaders.
Collaboration and business advocacy will continue this year as we engage proactively with our local governmental partners. When appropriate, we will serve as the convener to communicate proposed initiatives to our members and community stakeholders. We will coordinate with leadership of our higher-education institutions by serving as their community partner, supporting talent recruitment and retention and enhancing connections between business and university research initiatives.
The biggest impact that can be made to our community is in the passage of the penny sales tax extension in November. This sales tax extension will create more than 8,000 new jobs and have an economic impact of more than $1.2 billion directly into our community. The Chamber will do its part to promote and educate our community on the importance of passing this extension, but I encourage the residents of Leon County and the business community to demonstrate their commitment to our future at the polls next month.
• Enhancing the membership experience for our member businesses and their employees.
For more than 90 years, our Chamber has been the “go-to” resource for business development. We engage and encourage young professionals and provide leadership training and community leadership recognition programs. All of these programs are offered to improve every Chamber member’s bottom line.
We will continue to improve our programs this year by growing and diversifying our membership base and listening to our membership after soliciting their input. Our members rely on us to support their business success, and we look forward to exceeding those expectations.
I encourage the owners of businesses that aren’t Chamber members to join us. In my opinion, Chamber membership remains the best and most effective way to plug in, make important business connections, improve your business’s visibility and meet your goals.
• Promoting the Chamber’s affiliate program network.
From identifying the next generation of high-school leaders (Youth Leadership Tallahassee) and business professionals who are the future of our community (Leadership Tallahassee), to strengthening our key targeted industry sectors (Industry Roundtable Program) and supporting the talented collection of 350 member young professionals in our community (Access Tallahassee), the Chamber is busy making a positive impact. The World Class Schools initiative will continue its mission of recognizing our Best and Brightest students.
The Chamber will continue to support the mission of the Economic Development Council to promote entrepreneurial growth and the retention and expansion of current businesses while also focusing on the recruitment of new industry. The great work of the EDC will ensure that our region remains competitive on a global scale for projects, businesses and jobs.
Collectively, these programs serve as the foundation of the Chamber’s efforts to focus on our future by engaging and involving our community while also leveraging our region’s competitive advantages.
I look forward to working closely with Chamber President/CEO Sue Dick, her incredibly talented team, the dedicated volunteers who make up our Board of Directors, and EDC Chair Jim Murdaugh as we identify new opportunities to strengthen our community’s economic vitality and improve the quality of life for everyone who is lucky enough to call Tallahassee home.
I’m eager to keep the momentum going and to build on a great foundation. The future is bright, and we are looking forward to year full of new business, new jobs and new opportunities for our community.