Economic development, education and real estate trends take center stage at Tallahassee Chamber Conference


AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (WTXL) — The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s Community Conference featured speakers this weekend at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

During the conference’s final day Sunday, Leon County sheriff Walt McNeil gave an address.

According to the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, McNeil noted that crime cannot be reduced by only law enforcement, but reducing crime requires community-wide engagement.

The sheriff also discussed the partnership between his office, the Leon County Schools District and the city of Tallahassee on the mentorship program aimed to help at-risk young males.

Other speakers Sunday included Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare president and CEO Mark O’Bryant and Ed Murray, Jr. of NAI TALCOR.

Florida State University president Richard McCullough spoke Saturday.

McCullough discussed multiple topics during his address.

With the increased demand for student housing in Leon County, McCullough noted that FSU had enough housing for all first-year students and the university needs a couple more dorms to house all the students that want to live on campus.

McCullough disclosed that Florida State University is looking at building more housing.

He noted the amount of interest to attend the university with more applicants than slots available.

Per the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, McCullough noted the university has hired a number of people to hold important leadership positions during his first year as president.

He acknowledged a key factor in growing Tallahassee’s economy is by growing FSU’s research capacity. McCullough wants to secure more funding from the National Institutes of Health for research projects.

McCullough noted FSU is working to help grow start-up companies in the area that partner with them and the avenues entrepreneurs can take with the university.

The president expects $1 billion in construction done by the university during the next three years and additional construction beyond that.

McCullough also discussed the impact the Florida State University football program has on the economy of Tallahassee, Leon County and the region.

McCullough claimed that the FSU football team brings $100 million to the region each college football season and that out-of-town fans bring in $50 million in direct spending to Leon County.

He added that 65% of fans travel more than 3 1/2 hours to attend a game at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.

Per the chamber of commerce, McCullough discussed the FSU athletics department’s conference affiliation.

The Florida State University athletics department is a member of the NCAA’s Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It’s something I’m spending a lot of time on and we’re getting a lot of help. We’re trying to do anything we can to think about how we remain competitive. Florida State is expected to win. We’re going to be very aggressive,” McCullough said.

For the past 10-plus years, there has been a climate of conference realignment among NCAA Division I member college athletic programs across the country because of media rights fees paid to conferences by media companies to broadcast and/or stream athletic events; most notably football and men’s basketball games.