Chamber Conference: Chamber looks to address community needs, evaluates consolidation


AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (WCTV) – The Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce could put the idea of government consolidation on hold.

The Chamber first brought up the idea of consolidating the City of Tallahassee and Leon County Government last year as a way to address the high crime rate, ongoing FBI investigation and various ethics complaints happening within City Hall. Earlier this year, it tasked nine residents with studying the idea. The Chamber discussed the findings of the task force with the Chamber board on Friday during the annual Chamber Conference.

“Some of their findings are very interesting,” said Jay Revell, Vice President of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. “They’ve kind of said before we dive into the deep end of consolidating, we should probably focus on what are the key areas of concern in our community, what are the foundational elements that we really need to make sure we have in the right position.”

The task force identified four key areas of focus.

The first is the economy and the need for more private sector jobs. According to the Florida Chamber, Tallahassee will need to create 20,000 more jobs by 2030 to keep up with the growing population

Next, is admitting and addressing that there are two Tallahassee’s. The task force said economic segregation and poverty are very real problems.

Third, is the reputational risks that Tallahassee is facing. Headlines like “number one crime rate” and “on-going FBI investigation” creates problems for businesses or families who may be considering moving to Tallahassee. Instead, the task force believes work needs to be done to push the positives of Tallahassee.

And finally, is settling competing preferences for the future landscape of Tallahassee. Meaning, the community needs to build a consensus of what it would like to see the area look like in terms of development.

Revell said these four areas would be used as markers to judge how Tallahassee and Leon County are progressing.

“We’ve got to be a community that is committed to looking at our future and making sure that our foundational elements that we have in place are strong and ready for that future. And if it’s not, a lot of people might not choose to live here. That’s why we have to choose to grow, and that’s why we have to continue to evolve,” he said.

Over the next few months, the Chamber plans to hold various community meetings and focus groups to brainstorm ideas on how residents believe we can solve these issues.

If progress cannot be made, then he said the Chamber has no problem pushing for consolidation.

“We need to be able to look at these items and say, Okay are we addressing our most critical needs? Are we addressing the foundational elements of our future? If the answer is yes, then we need to continue moving forward together in doing that. But, if we get to a place where the answer is no, then we need to strongly consider evaluating other alternatives.”