An Opportunity to Make a Difference

Having a set of principles helps to make good decisions. Here at the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, our organization is steered by a set of guiding principles that were established to advance our mission. As the catalysts for business and community growth, our principles are rooted in a shared belief; a strong business environment will yield a thriving community. When our Board of Directors take a position on issues that impact those beliefs, they consult our principles for guidance. Earlier this week, that process culminated in our Board endorsing the creating of Children’s Services Council (CSC) for Leon County.

Like any position taken by our Board, much consideration is given to how an issue applies to our guiding principles. In the case of the CSC, there are two principles that are directly applicable.

They are written as follows:
  • We believe tax and fee burdens should be minimized on business, and we will only support an increase in taxes or fees on local business that demonstrates measurable benefit to local business and the economy.
  • We believe a strong talent development system should be created that supports our current workforce needs and establishes a talent pipeline to meet future workforce demands.
Based on these principles, the Board spent over two years engaged in discussions about how the creation of a CSC would impact the future of both businesses and our broader community.

When first approached by CSC supporters in 2018, our Board asked for more time and a dedicated process to help our community learn more about this method for investing in better outcomes for children. As a result, various local leaders participated in a public study process to understand the full scope of our community needs and shape what a CSC might look like. Meanwhile, our Board and staff began engaging with both our members and other Chambers from around Florida to get a sense of how such a model might affect the economy. While this work was being conducted, two things became increasingly clear.

First, Tallahassee’s needs are substantial – with nearly 20% of our children living below the poverty line there is a growing crisis affecting our most vulnerable residents. This leads to a significant portion of our community facing difficult living conditions and challenged career prospects. We can and must do better.

Secondly, when looking at how other CSC efforts have been implemented around the State of Florida there is mounting evidence to support sustained and targeted investments in programs that directly help children with their development. CSC funds are used to promote school readiness, provide improved healthcare, and allow for other development needs that in turn help to create better community outcomes including a growing, healthy, and well-educated workforce. All things that are needed in our hometown.

Taking these realities into account, this Spring the Chamber Board initiated the review and development of a position statement in support of a CSC for our community. With input from our Business Advocacy Committee and feedback from members, the Board was able to craft a statement that is rooted in our principles and aimed at creating a brighter future of the children of Tallahassee and Leon County.

This November, voters across our community will have the opportunity to decide whether to create a CSC here. The Chamber Board is encouraging citizens to vote “YES.” The creation of a CSC for Leon County will not solve all our challenges, but it does offer us an opportunity to make a difference. For a small investment, we can all help to create a more equitable community for every child who is blessed to be born here. The CSC offers us the chance to create a better version of our future and that is something we all should support. In this case, a thriving community will help shape a better business environment and that is squarely in line with what we believe.