“Talent Lives Here”

Some years ago, I was searching for an idea that could help sell Tallahassee to graduates of our local colleges and universities. The intent was to find a turn of phrase that could make my contemporaries think about our City in a different way. While scribbling down some ideas, I wrote out the call letters for our City’s airport, “T.L.H.”, then began to play around with some words to fit that abbreviation. Beginning with the word “Talent”, I worked through a few concepts before landing on one that felt both clever and true – Talent Lives Here.

This phrase was born while I was participating in the catalyst program of the Knight Creative Communities Institute. The cool part was that some of my fellow catalysts took the idea and made an immediate impact with it. They created an awesome toolkit for local companies to use when developing internship programs. It remains true that internships and apprenticeships are incredibly successful methods for retaining talent in both companies and communities. The Talent Lives Here moniker had its first purpose.

Today, you may know that phrase from the Chamber’s monthly video series where we highlight various young professionals and talented residents who have chosen to make Tallahassee their home. We use this platform to tell the stories of the many talented individuals who are building their lives and businesses in our community. The aim is still the same as when the Talent Lives Here phrase was created – get people to think of Tallahassee as a career destination.

Our efforts to recruit and retain talent in Tallahassee go beyond just videos and marketing though. The Chamber has been actively engaged in this space for many years now. The foundation of those efforts is our Access Tallahassee program where we have created the largest network of next generation business leaders in the community. Over the past decade, our regularly scheduled Access gatherings have become an important place for young professionals to develop their career trajectory in Tallahassee. With nearly 500 members, Access Tallahassee continues to grow and thrive.

In recent years, we have taken that strong foundation and expanded our work into more direct ways of recruiting rising college graduates to stay in Tallahassee. Just this week, we hosted our latest installment of the Tally Job Hop, a program designed to introduce students to the many companies that call Tallahassee home. Each semester for the past three years, our passionate staff have taken students around the city in vans to spend a day with some of the leading companies in select sectors. These companies are hiring for jobs in engineering, computer programming, communications and other in demand careers.

After seeing the success of this program, former Chamber Board Chair, Heidi Otway convened a talent committee to better understand what resources exist for those looking to start or elevate a career in Tallahassee. With the help of some dedicated volunteers, we discovered where the gaps are and began to consider how our organization can make a larger impact in this space. Fast forward to today and we are on the verge of ramping up a new program of work dedicated at doing just that.

To better understand where we are going in this realm, it’s important to grasp the status quo that companies are facing on the talent front. Today’s economy has essentially reached what is commonly called “full employment” – that means that nearly everyone who is in the labor force either has or can have a job. This reality is both good and bad for employers. The good side of that coin is that companies are growing and putting lots of people to work. The downside is that because of this success, workers are becoming harder to find. Think of it this way, companies today are often having to find their employees from other companies. It is almost as if there is a bidding war for talent.

This problem is not unique to Tallahassee, but our leadership believes that the Chamber can provide some unique solutions for both our companies and those individuals who are considering our community for their careers. We can’t afford to let our businesses and the talent we so often export be ships passing in the night. The economic development upside of being one of America’s best cities for talent is massive. For us, the underlying idea is this – to become a hub for growing companies, we must become a pipeline for talented and hardworking employees. This means that we must take a broader approach to developing talent all the way from high school, through college and even into high earning years of our citizens.

I could keep going on about where we are heading, but instead I’d rather you join us for our Annual Breakfast Meeting next Tuesday to learn more. As we prepare to launch a new talent initiative as a key priority for the Chamber, I hope you’ll come and spend some time to learn more about this and all that we do. Breakfast is included and our friend President John Thrasher will be speaking about FSU’s impact on our community. In addition, you can come and learn what the phrase Talent Lives Here means for you, your company, and the city you call home.

To register for the 2019 Annual Breakfast Meeting, visit www.talchamber.com.

Jay Revell
Vice President