The day after the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency appointed itself as the new economic development organization last week, the Office of Economic Vitality began to take shape.
“We’ve been exceptionally busy,” said Ben Pingree, director of Planning, Land Management and Community Enhancement, “starting from first thing Tuesday morning after the IA meeting.”
Pingree has formally alerted the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Enterprise Florida that the IA — made up of the Leon County and city of Tallahassee Commissions — has now replaced the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County as the area’s new EDO. The EDC dissolved in late January following a contentious split with the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce
The Office of Economic Vitality, now the area’s economic development hub, sits under PLACE, a joint city-county agency. Pingree said three people in the PLACE research wing, including two who previously served economic development efforts for the city and county, have joined the new office. Two of them now serve as the manager and coordinator within the office’s division of research and business analytics. The other is now the coordinator of engagement and operations division.
When it’s fully staffed, the office will employ six people and will be located within the Blueprint office, a 4th-floor suite in the Bank of America building on South Calhoun Street. Pingree said the office is still under construction and the official move won’t occur for another two months.
The office is now beginning administrative processes, creating a budget, setting up phone lines and building a website. Staff has started coordinating with consultant VisionFirst Advisors, which is developing the area’s economic development plan.
The office also received all project files from the EDC and the Chamber. No active projects, Pingree said, went without a home.
Moving forward, Pingree must round out the office with two more positions, a division manager for strategic planning and fiscal accountability and another coordinator for the division of engagement and operations. Most importantly, a director must be hired.
“That’s going to be a very important position,” Pingree said. “We’re going to test the nationwide market to get the best and the brightest.”
The goal is to have all those positions filled by the next IA meeting in June. Pingree expects the strategic plan to be ready for the September meeting.
“I am as excited about the opportunity, and not just for this office, but really for all of our stakeholders,” he said. “This already is structured so much better and I think it’s going to prove so much more effective in the years ahead. I think we’re going to be able to maximize greater outcomes with the same amount of investments.”
Credit: Tallahassee Democrat