By: Beth Kirkland, CEcD, Executive Director, Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County, Inc.
Tallahassee has been well-represented in statewide economic development circles for some time. Many of our EDC roundtable chairs have served on state boards for our targeted industries, and our local elected leaders have a long history of leadership at both the state and national levels. It is in this tradition that I am privileged to serve a one-year term as Chair of the Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC) starting this month.
FEDC is a professional association whose members work for cities, counties, utilities, regions, the state and public-private partnerships like your EDC, in community, workforce and economic development roles. The mission of FEDC is defined by three tenets: EDUCATE, ADVOCATE and CONNECT. Just as a company’s best assets are its people, Florida’s competitiveness largely depends on how prepared its economic development professionals are to share with their stakeholders the best practices of growing jobs and capital investment. FEDC works year round to develop sound economic development policy at the state and local levels and leverages technology to provide its members real-time data on tools, resources and policy.
We enjoy a similar coordinated approach to economic development by partnering with local businesses, education and government to grow jobs, facilities and investments in the Tallahassee region. It is this commitment to job creation and collaboration, instead of competition, that also helps attract new industry to our region. Whether we are changing the landscape of our community, banding together to advance public and private capital projects to navigate a recession, or crafting a highly competitive package for an expansion or attraction project, all segments are represented, engaged and important to a successful outcome.
Simply comparing notes on the legislative agendas of our city, county, higher education, hospitals, economic and workforce development entities helps us understand each other’s priorities so we can be supportive where possible and avoid the unintended consequences of operating independently.
As I connect across the state over the course of the next year, I look forward to sharing what has and hasn’t worked for our region, elevating the assets of north Florida, and strengthening the competitiveness of Florida in the global economy.
That ability for our state to compete globally is bolstered by some significant advantages over other states. For instance, Florida is:
- Ranked as the second-best state in the country for business;
- Ranked the No. 1 state for workforce development and training;
- Ranked among the top five states for tax climates for business; and
- Ranked as the state with the nation’s second-best transportation infrastructure.
That is good news for the state and for our local economy as well.
It is an honor to serve the economic development professionals of our state while representing our amazing region. Being the most recent of a long line of local leaders taking the helm of a business organization at the state level increases our exposure, provides additional opportunities and creates a greater awareness of what we can offer companies that value flexible education and training, a strong workforce and a unique quality of life.