Tallahassee, the capital of Florida and the county seat of Leon County, is a political and legal center for Florida. Ranked in the top 25 percent for global innovation (Innovation Cities Program) and top 50 City for Entrepreneurs (Entrepreneur Magazine, 2016), Tallahassee – Leon County is not only the political capital of Florida, but also Florida’s capital for business. Florida, the third most populous state in the nation, had the fastest growing GDP of the five most populated U.S. states in 2016. Tallahassee – Leon County is a powerful driver of this growth with an annual GDP of $14.7 billion and counting. Its location makes it the main center for trade and agriculture in the Florida Big Bend and Southwest Georgia Regions. Given that 40% of all U.S. exports to Latin and South America go through Florida, it is not a surprise that the capital sees such high levels of commerce. The easy access to transportation via the Tallahassee International Airport, Amtrak, CSX, Interstate 10, U.S. Route 27, U.S. Route 90, and U.S. Route 319 provide ready and flexible movability for people and goods traveling through the city.
Tallahassee-Leon County, the capital of the State of Florida, is a community standing at the threshold of unbridled opportunity.
HIGHER LEARNING AND INNOVATION
Burgeoning robotics, high performance materials, biotechnology, aerospace, magnetics, and advanced manufacturing industries tap into research and development innovation through partnerships with two major local institutions: Florida State University and Florida A&M University.
Florida State University, one of only two preeminent universities in the State of Florida and ranked one of the best universities for technology transfer (Milken Institute, 2017), is home to the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (“Mag Lab”), the largest and highest-powered magnet lab in the world and only national laboratory in the Southeastern United States. Combined with its strong regional ties, the lab also hosts more than 1,600 visiting researchers from around the globe each year. The Lab seeks to expand its user base in South and Central America in the near future.
Florida A&M University, the oldest and largest among historically black colleges and universities, was ranked 7th best in the nation in 2017. Together, these institutional assets offer ample opportunities for R&D partnerships and a highly educated workforce. In fact, Tallahassee-Leon County is ranked as the 10th most educated city the United States (WalletHub, 2016). Additionally, the city-county’s commitment to expand local workforce access to tech jobs and support local employer demand earned a TechHire designation from the White House in 2016, making it one of only 50 communities in the United States to hold this title.
This research and innovation powerhouse has given local businesses a competitive edge in R&D and tech transfer. An example of this is Danfoss Turbocor Compressors, a local business with an international reach that has generated innovative partnerships with local research institutions. Danfoss is the worldwide leading manufacturer of oil-less compressors for commercial HVACs, using magnetic bearing technology developed at the Mag Lab. The partnership has not only amplified Danfoss’ business and reach, but it has also created a viable pipeline for local talent.
The environment created by these outstanding institutions has caused Tallahassee to be ranked 18 in best college towns in the U.S. by Best College Review. Also, the research opportunities available at these facilities have led Tallahassee to be ranked as a Top 25% of Cities for Global Innovation (Innovation-Cities.com, 2016). For its cutting edge technology, the city boasts being the most wired city in the U.S. The current unemployment rate falls at a low 3.7%, marking a strong economy when combined with the technological advances of the city.
INVESTMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn about how significant public investments in infrastructure have fueled private investment and increased the community’s economic competitiveness. The adoption of one penny sales tax – 12 percent of which is allotted for economic development – has resulted in world class, multi-use public infrastructure that will sustain the forecasted population boom and influx in strategic targeted industries. Cascades Park, a stormwater facility that doubles as a unique urban park and winner of the 2016 “Great Places in Florida” award, is a prime example of the nexus between capital investments, urban planning, public health, and economic development. This facility benefits both citizens and businesses in the adjacent downtown and South Side communities by relieving flooding; attracting foot traffic through recreation and events; and improving connectivity and traffic flow between the FAMU, Downtown, and College Town districts. $1.2 billion in additional planned projects from the Planning, Land Management and Community Enhancement (PLACE) Division will also drive economic development in Tallahassee – Leon County to create an even more vibrant, diverse, and inclusive community.
In addition to infrastructure, public-private partnerships cultivate a fertile business and entrepreneurial climate. Public investment helped launch Domi Station, Leon County’s first incubator, which has generated local startups with international reach, such as the globally recognized RMS-HWind. A private donation of $100 million also helped establish the FSU Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship, and university engagement and commercialization continues to feed an innovative talent pipeline.
A thriving creative class also nurtures Tallahassee – Leon County’s unique local flavor, culture, and sense of place. The Gaines Street/College Town and Railroad Square Art Park districts are two living examples of the benefits of placemaking, urban design, and the creative economy. The Gaines Street revitalization project turned a warehouse-lined corridor into an artsy, walkable local business and entertainment destination, with a return of $195.8 million in private investment and a $150 million post-development taxable value.
On the ACE 8 Tour…
Attendees will discover how Tallahassee-Leon is an emerging catalyst for economic development. Tallahassee-Leon County tour activities provide a snapshot of Tallahassee-Leon County’s fertile business and entrepreneurial climate, research and development potential, and public-private partnerships that increasingly attract new businesses and residents to the area annually. From the highest quality human and intellectual capital to the natural, cultural, and quality of life amenities, Florida’s Capital has it all.
Attendees will leave Tallahassee-Leon County with powerful examples of the “key ingredients” that make it a regional epicenter of growth and innovation.
AMERICAS COMPETITIVENESS EXCHANGE