Otway: Bicentennial presents opportunity for community

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Tallahassee and Leon County are on the verge of an incredibly important anniversary. In 2024, our community will celebrate the bicentennial of our founding as the capital city.

There will be many celebrations honoring our history, but the greatest opportunity lies within the building of a foundation for our future. Our community can set the course for our next 100 years by declaring a bold set of beliefs for who we want to be. We can even begin to build on those beliefs in the time between now and 2024 by following a plan with discernable checkpoints along the way.

Recently, the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce hosted a Community Leadership Trip to Nashville, Tennessee. The most important takeaway from that trip was that cities can accomplish incredible things through collaboration and intentional planning.

In the wake of that trip, the Chamber is prepared to be a catalyst for accelerating the rate of positive change happening in our community. We want to bring people together who are invested in growing our economy and creating more opportunity for all our residents. We believe that the upcoming bicentennial in 2024 is the perfect vessel in which to launch a series of bold initiatives for our future.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors has approved a small step in helping our community move forward with this intention. In the coming week, our organization will appoint a number of our members to join our Community Plan Leadership Committee. This new endeavor is aimed at capturing the spirit of the business community’s beliefs for what kind of city we should be by 2024.

Our aim will be to solidify a number of key beliefs that serve as our guidepost for collaborating with other key stakeholders in the community to develop a plan for our bicentennial and beyond.

The Chamber knows we alone cannot shape the future of Tallahassee. A more prosperous future for Tallahassee can only happen with many key players performing in concert.

The Chamber believes our community needs to launch a bicentennial commission, made up of key stakeholders who can find the areas in which we all agree and begin to plan for ways to achieve gains in those areas. Success will occur when we all identify our beliefs, and focus our efforts on the areas we all agree on.

Now is the time to write the next chapter for our community. Our community bicentennial provides us a chance to discover the areas in which we all agree. Those shared principles will become the means in which we differentiate ourselves from the world.

The Chamber will be releasing more on the findings and beliefs of our Community Plan Leadership Committee between our Community Conference this August and our Annual Breakfast Meeting in October. We are excited to play a role in moving Tallahassee forward.

The Chamber is committed to collaboration with those who believe in the bright future we can build during our bicentennial and beyond.

Heidi Otway is chair-elect of the Board of Directors of  Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, and vice president and partner at SalterMitchellPR.