Growing Business – Dustin Rivest, 223 Agency

When businesses are growing, the community is growing which is why the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce makes it a priority to create a thriving business environment. In order to do that, the Chamber brings together business owners and entrepreneurs in ways that create connections, inspire collaboration and drive growth. The Chamber is committed to supporting the key ingredients of a thriving economy including entrepreneurship, talent retention and business expansion.

The Chamber’s mission is to be the catalyst for business growth in Tallahassee. This means our organization must seek to educate our members on business opportunities, inform companies of trends in the economy and make connections that can drive growth across our network.

Throughout the year, the Chamber hosts numerous gatherings and forums that feature topics relevant to the needs of business leaders. The Chamber produces regular content about the state of the local economy, upcoming development projects and even stories about what makes Tallahassee a great place to live and do business. The culmination of this work occurs each year at the Annual Community Conference where over 500 business leaders gather with a focus on how to move Tallahassee forward.

“The Chamber’s Annual Community Conference has been critically important to our business,” says Dustin Rivest, CEO of the 223 Agency. “When we were first getting our technology company off the ground, we decided to attend the Chamber Conference as a way to make new connections. Little did we know how impactful that decision would turn out to be. Investing my time in the Chamber has made all the difference in our company’s success.”

You may know the 223 Agency better for the company’s former name, App Innovators. Rivest founded the company as a means of delivering cutting edge mobile applications to a range of clients in Tallahassee. Today, the company has rebranded to reflect its growth in clients, capabilities and reach. “Our trajectory really began to change when we helped the Chamber launch an app for the Annual Community Conference. Having that platform to share who we were and what we were capable of delivering clients, was huge for us. The Chamber afforded our company the chance to grow.”

The 223 Agency is one of many companies in Tallahassee that is scaling up as opportunities and revenue continue to increase. One of the biggest challenges for growing companies like the 223 Agency is finding enough talent to meet the company’s fast-growing demand. Part of the Chamber’s effort to create a strong business environment has been focused on retaining more talent from our local universities. The Chamber conducts a bi-annual program called the Tally Job Hop as a way to connect companies with local students from Florida State University and Florida A&M University who may be great candidates for companies searching for talent.

“Tallahassee is loaded with talent, but as our economy continues to grow and new companies are sprouting up, it’s become harder to hire,” says Rivest. “That’s why the Chamber’s Tally Job Hop has been so timely and impactful. In our company alone, we have already hired a number of interns and some full time staff through the Job Hop. Without the Chamber we may have never found these talented individuals.”

Rivest and the 223 Agency team have recently moved into a new office space on the edge of Downtown Tallahassee. He hopes to build a vision with his neighboring businesses, local government and the Chamber to help create Tallahassee’s first tech district. “Our community is growing and we want to be in the middle of the action. Our new headquarters is a reflection of that and our aim is to once again use our engagement in the Chamber to help catapult this idea into reality. The future here is incredibly bright and the Chamber is one of the top reasons why. We can’t grow without them.”