Chamber study points to potential economic benefits of a consolidated government


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — According to the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, Tallahassee and Leon County could potentially benefit economically by forming a consolidated government.

The preliminary opinion is based off a study done by the Washington Economic Group for the Chamber.

That study is a comparative study that looks at the best practices of five other governments that are consolidated including Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Nashville, Louisville and Athens, Georgia.

According to the study, Leon County-Tallahassee could potentially grow in three key economic areas if it consolidated. Those include employment, household income and GDP. While looking at a five year projected impact, the study points to an estimated growth of 8,000 jobs, a growth of income by $335 million and a GDP growth of $482 million.

The study also lays out three best practices moving forward that would accelerate that growth. Those read as follow:

1. Craft a charter that meets the community’s economic development needs without losing the political support of key constituents.
2. Show the average citizen voter that the current government structure is unable to achieve the economic vision that is key to their economic future.
3. Create a new local government constitution that restructures the organization to effectively implement the proposed economic development vision and strategy.

Chamber Chair Heidi Otway said the study is a good glimpse at what could be.

“It is not to say that this is exactly what would happen in Tallahassee, but the possibility is there and that gives us hope that this could be a vehicle for us to use. Again, it’s still early. We’re still studying it. It’s not a sprint. It’s a process that we’re going through,” she said.

The Chamber initially considered the idea of consolidation after a trip to Nashville, but put the idea on the back burner. The board then reconsidered looking into the idea given the recent climate in Tallahassee following the high crime rate and an ongoing FBI investigation.

However, the study does not address either concern. It focuses solely on economic factors and outcomes.

Otway said there is still a lot of factors to look at moving forward.

The study will next be passed to the Chamber’s business advocacy committee, which will dive deeper into the idea and look to answer more questions about the potential consolidation outside the realm of economics. Then, the Chamber will decide how to move forward.

“In our community’s modern history, this study demonstrates that thoughtful, meaningful change could be the key catalyst to best propel us forward for the benefit of all,” said Otway. “We have so many positive community qualities, significant projects and committed individuals and organizations that could support a reasonable change that can make a great difference now and for the future.”