By Gray Swoope, president and CEO of VisionFirst Advisors
Tallahassee’s strengths in education helped it to weather the impacts of COVID-19, and will continue to be a cornerstone of economic growth and development as the community plans ahead.
Florida State, Florida A&M, TCC, Lively Technical, and our other educational institutions play an essential role in building a robust talent pipeline for our community. With two research universities, a community college, a technical college, and other private higher education, Tallahassee produces an abundance of creative talent and intellectual capital, giving it a competitive advantage over other communities. Thousands of degrees and certificates are awarded each year (18,610 in 2019), which leads to a higher-than-average labor force participation rate. Tallahassee’s prime-age labor force participation rate is already strong at 84.1%, and with a steadily increasing number of educated and skilled workers. 46.4% of Leon County residents age 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and expected growth rates for occupations requiring degrees and certificates are growing each year. Jobs with higher education and training requirements also tend to pay higher wages, increasing the standard of living among workers and elevating Tallahassee’s economy.
Taking this into account, VisionFirst is thrilled to be working with OEV and its scores of education, entrepreneur, workforce, business and government partners to position Tallahassee-Leon County for the next five years of growth. As we move forward recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic development will be a significant part of the conversation. Prior economic trends, such as remote work and telemedicine were accelerated during the pandemic, and existing economic disparities were greatly exposed.
Fortunately, OEV’s structure was in place to respond quickly to business by providing COVID response programs. With an abundance of federal programs being put forward, our recovery can be more than just getting back to normal, it can be transformational with the implementation of a solid economic development strategy that focuses on maximizing the value of Tallahassee’s assets.