Chamber selects Coral Gables consulting firm for consolidation study

From the Tallahassee Democrat

The Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce hired Coral Gables-based Washington Economic Group Inc. to lead its study on the consolidation of local government functions.

Last month, the chamber announced its plans for a deep analytical dive into the potential economic benefits of a consolidated local government in Tallahassee and Leon County.

The Washington Economic Group is led by nationally recognized business economist Antonio Villiamil. He served as the U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs and was a recent member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy. His background includes being a “high-level policymaker for both federal and state governments,” according to an email blast issued by the chamber Wednesday afternoon.

“As a result of the position taken by the Chamber Board of Directors, the chamber is pleased to be working with Dr. Tony Villamil and his company, the Washington Economics Group, to study the economic benefits of a possible consolidated government in Tallahassee and Leon County,” Chamber President and CEO Sue Dick said.

The study will include a review of “principal factors that drive consolidation, best practices from consolidated metro areas around the United States and the benefits of a well-executed consolidated government.”

Consolidation has surfaced several times over the years but has yet to be passed by voters. It came up most recently after a Sachs Media Group survey revealed what appears to be a renewed appetite for consolidation in the wake of an FBI probe into alleged corruption at City Hall and declining public trust in municipal government.

The study is slated to be complete in December. The chamber’s decision to pursue a consolidation drew mixed support from political policy makers, business leaders and members of law enforcement.

“At this stage we are focused on discovering the “why” not the “how,” Dick said. “It’s essential for our private sector stakeholders to have a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of consolidation when viewed through an economic development lens. We believe Dr. Villamil and his team will be able to deliver just that.”

Contact TaMaryn Waters at or follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.