Business leaders planning Nashville trip

From the Tallahassee Democrat

In two months, a local delegation of business executives and government officials are headed to Nashville, Tennessee, to learn the city’s branding and economic development secrets.

The Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce is planning the trip from May 15 through May 17. It’s been two years since the last recon trip to Boulder, Colorado. Boulder’s startup explosion appealed to local leaders who wanted to unleash Tallahassee’s startup potential. Past trips also included Madison, Wisconsin, Austin, Texas, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Entrepreneurship will once again be a large focus. Locals also hope to draw from Nashville’s ability to juggle development and urban infill as Tallahassee’s development swells and a new economic structure takes flight.

“The timing is really good to build on our synergies and projects that are about to happen,” said Sue Dick, president and CEO of the chamber. “We are finding that things are moving quicker. What used to take six months, 12 months, 18 months to roll out, we’re just seeing things move faster.”

The trip’s agenda is crammed with strategic stops at notable locations in Nashville, such as the Music City Center, The Wond’ry at Vanderbilt University and the Nashville Entrepreneurship Center.

As of Wednesday, the chamber identified 50 to 75 business leaders and policy makers to go on the trip; 40 are confirmed. The trip, which is not open to the public, costs $1,495; airfare is not included. The trip’s presenting sponsor is Domi Ventures.

County Commissioner Bryan Desloge, who went to Boulder, also plans to make the Nashville trip. He said going to Boulder was worthwhile because Tallahassee’s political and business leaders needed to see first hand a community that was more welcoming to entrepreneurs.

“Government needs to do a better job of sharing best practices,” Desloge said. “If they figured out how to do something, why shouldn’t we replicate it.”

City Commissioner Gil Ziffer plans to make the trip to Nashville, although he has visited “Music City U.S.A.” a few times. He marveled at how Nashville’s downtown has had major redevelopment while older nearby neighborhoods have been preserved.

“It has a downtown that has clearly gone through a similar redevelopment, but they have been able to survive it,” he said.