Chamber puts on community conversation event based on trip to Greenville, South Carolina

From the Tallahassee Democrat

The first of three community stops inspired by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s delegation trip to Greenville, South Carolina, takes place on Wednesday.

Private and public sector leaders agreed more could be done to spotlight the city’s economic assets and the momentum taking shape to capture the evolving story of Tallahassee businesses.

Sue Dick, the chamber’s president and CEO, said one takeaway from the April trip was “we all need to become better tourists in our own city.”

“We go on these trips not to copy other cities, but instead to see our own city in a different perspective,” she said. “Now we are taking that to the next level. We are going to host three outings this summer that all look at Tallahassee and some of things we are doing well while also contemplating what we must do to advance our overall economic competitiveness.”

In the early 2000s, previous Chamber-sponsored, invitation-only trips attracted local business, university and government officials to cities like Austin, Texas, and Madison, Wisconsin. A 12-year hiatus followed and trips returned in 2015 when locals traveled to Boulder, Colorado, and to Nashville, Tennessee, in 2017.

Last month’s trip to Greenville toured the city’s robust downtown and stopped at Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive Minor League baseball team, Greenville ONE Center, NEXT Manufacturing and Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.

The trip showcased how the city transformed its crippled economy caused by a mass exodus of textile mills to become one of the most visited in the South with fecund opportunities for manufacturing and engineering industries.

On the trip, Capital City Bank Co-Chief Operating Officer Beth Corum came up with the idea for a local version of the Chamber’s recon trip to other cities. Corum, the incoming president of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, was impressed by how Greenville maximized its assets.

This week’s event will be held at the Tallahassee Community College Innovation Center and in Tallahassee’s downtown, which has three major mixed-use development projects representing $648.2 million in overall economic impact. Experts tapped for the event include developers, commercial property advisers and others.

Chamber Board President Mark O’Bryant said those taking part in the trip want a better understanding of Tallahassee’s assets and what’s possible.

“But as much as that, we want them to make sure they know the opportunities. We may have assets that are under-utilized,” O’Bryant said. “This will give us a chance to illustrate to the community what that may be.”

The Chamber has been drumming up attention for Tallahassee’s upcoming bicentennial in 2024 as an opportunity to write a new economic chapter.

“But to get that right, we must first change how we see it,” Dick said. “That work begins now and with these gatherings.”

Contact TaMaryn Waters at or follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.