Tallahassee’s growing economy
Things are good in Tallahassee and primed to get even better. The greater Tallahassee area has the fastest growing economy per capita in Florida. Our area is experiencing a rate of growth twice that of the state and nearly three times that of the country.
Signs of progress can be seen all over town. Private development, a driving force strengthening and diversifying our local economy, is thriving in our city and signals a positive outlook for the next couple of years. Scattered throughout Tallahassee, there are close to 100 development projects in various phases. These include approximately 8,800 dwelling units and over 4.4 million square feet of non-residential uses (retail spaces, offices, hotels, etc.). These projects will translate into thousands of local job opportunities – both during development and after.
A recent analysis that considered six of these development projects estimated the total economic impact to be nearly $775 million with more than 6,000 jobs and $253 million in wages. Additionally, Florida State University and Florida A&M University each have major development projects on the horizon related to their individual campus master plans. Financial impacts are expected to be in the billions.
Efforts to support development projects include investing in infrastructure improvements and proactive permitting processes, which are contributing to the rapid growth of our community.
Planning Department Design Works staff have had over 140 consultations on projects throughout the community in 2017. There is a strong interest in developments in the urban core, South Monroe Street corridor and east side of Tallahassee. Other trends show significant growth in assisted living facilities and a move to replace older developments with new, higher density developments.
Staying steady with the swift pace of development, the City’s Growth Management Department Land Use and Environmental Services activities have increased by as much as 42 percent over the past year. Building permit activities have increased with inspections experiencing a 12 percent increase, new 1- and 2-Family Permits rising 22 percent and Multi-Family Permits growing by a whopping 92 percent. In keeping with City Commission priorities for efficient permitting, Growth Management has added two additional inspectors to support the demand for services.
With a focus on the future, you can count on City government to continue working to foster a healthy business environment, while keeping a close eye on key economic indicators. The Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality is monitoring and reporting job growth, which is currently trending in the right direction. Compared to last year, employment, labor, and wages are all up, while office vacancies and mortgage foreclosures are down.
Looking forward, it will be important to keep exploring ways to increase affordable housing options and balance growth with maintaining the unique and charming qualities that make Tallahassee such an attractive place to live. Today, we can appreciate and enjoy a high quality of life, affordable cost of living and the many other benefits that come with having a strong economic foundation upon which Tallahassee residents can build their lives, careers and successful businesses.
Wayne Tedder is the Assistant City Manager, Development Services and Economic Vitality