How shall we grow?

From the Tallahassee Democrat

The job crisis in our community is a crisis of skill – not job availability. The growth debate in our community is not about whether we will grow – but more importantly, how we will manage this growth.

This is why the Tallahassee Chamber is laser focused on addressing the skills and talent shortage with a bold approach that ensures our region grows in a way that creates new jobs, strengthens our urban opportunities, and provides a variety of choices for how we live, work, and raise our families.

Future generations depend on it.

Currently, there are more than 9,000 open positions in the Tallahassee region but only 5,000 unemployed individuals looking for jobs. That means there are nearly two jobs for every person, and the number does not consider whether the job seekers have skills aligned with the jobs available. This misalignment is unsustainable for every business leader charged with retaining and recruiting talent.

So, we have important choices about how, where, and in what form our region will grow.  And the process of getting there will be just as important as the result.

We can continue our current pattern of slow job growth and a large skills gap, or we can boldly choose a different approach. The decisions we make today about future growth will determine the competitiveness of our economy, the sustainability of our environment, and the quality of life for future generations. That’s why a collaborative approach is imperative.

This year the Greater Tallahassee Chamber will ask our community, elected officials, and business leaders the important question, “How Shall We Grow?”

As a Chamber, we look at the forces shaping our state, nation, and world, and see how we are uniquely positioned to be one of the most dynamic regions of the 21st Century. We celebrate the diversity of our people, our economy, and our communities as we look toward a shared future and address our common issues. With more than 1,200 Chamber members representing 55,000 employees, together we are taking an ambitious long view on the possibilities.

This vision reflects what matters most as we raise our families, expand our businesses, and build our communities. We will elevate our forum with the Chamber Business Advocacy Committee for continued cooperation among regional elected officials. We will focus our advocacy efforts on issues that have the greatest possibilities to drive job growth and business opportunities: affordable/workforce housing; site readiness for expanding businesses and new business recruitment; homelessness and its impacts on our community; and opportunities with the Airport Gateway.

We will not stop until we collectively answer the question: “How Shall We Grow?”

Finally, we invite you – our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and, ultimately our children and grandchildren, to join us as we work toward this new vision.

Terrie Ard is chair of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber Board of Directors and President and Partner at The Moore Agency.