“An Interdependent Relationship”

Some of the most important work we do at the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce is in the realm of advocating for our local business community. We like to think that our approach to advocacy is both unique and impactful. Those lines of work start with the premise that our business community and local governments are interdependent. That means what we try to do is create and maintain relationships that are based on sharing information and business intelligence with local leaders. The goal is for both sides to benefit from every interaction. Typically, that manifests in meetings, calls and other personal contact that is very much in line with how most of our Chamber of Commerce activities transpire. With the COVID-19 pandemic changing every way in which we work, we’ve had to be creative in how we do this.

Tallahassee and Leon County have no shortage of challenges right now, but one of the best things happening here today is that there is a real desire from local leaders to see our hometown thrive. That’s a great place to start when trying to strengthen the relationships between business and government. It’s certainly fair to say that it has never been more important. The work we do in this space happens through our Business Advocacy Committee (BAC) and the dedicated volunteers who give up many hours each month to keep these conversations going. During this pandemic, when so many businesses are suffering, the interdependent nature of our relationship with local government has never been clearer.

Under the leadership of BAC Chair Sammie Dixon, we have remained diligent in our advocacy efforts. Earlier this week, the Chamber’s BAC held a virtual meeting with City of Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey joining the discussion. One of the best attributes of our BAC members is that they represent a wide cross-section of important industries, critical services, and other foundational elements of our local economy. With Mayor Dailey on the call, he was able to hear directly from these business leaders on how the pandemic and our now prolonged economic pause are affecting employers and the thousands of jobs they represent.

Mayor Dailey was kind enough to give BAC members nearly an hour of his time and the dialogue between them was valuable for all involved. The Mayor and all of our local elected officials have done a great job keeping communication lines open during these difficult times and the results have been positive for local businesses. Beyond the BAC call with Mayor Dailey, we have also kept in contact with numerous local leaders including a recent virtual meeting with County Commission Chair Bryan Desloge. There has been regular outreach with Superintendent Rocky Hanna and Leon County Schools as well. It is important to note that the staff at the City of Tallahassee, Leon County and Leon County Schools have never been more responsive to business. Through their leadership, the City and County have helped shepherd numerous resources for businesses in need of a lifeline right now. Those resources and other beneficial information for local businesses can be found via the Chamber’s online COVID-19 portal.

As the Mayor pointed out on the BAC call this week, local governments have an important role to play as the governments closest to the people and employers. Their ability to act quickly through the Office of Economic Vitality and other departments has been critical in keeping doors open where possible and people employed while revenue has been severely impacted. If there is anything we want our members to know right now as it relates to advocacy and local government is this: our local leaders are listening, and our businesses are stepping up to share what is needed most right now.

Our advocacy efforts for local businesses never stop – especially in moments like these. We are fortunate to live in a great community and even in these tough times, we continue to show what makes Tallahassee and Leon County great. Relationships between leaders will continue to be the most important way to drive results. Our relationships persist because we are all in this together.

Jay Revell

Vice President, Advocacy and Public Policy