As the recession continues in Florida, a second boost could impact Tallahassee’s economy this year, following the one it received during the Gubernatorial Inauguration.
With the 2011 Florida legislative session underway from March 8, Tallahassee economist and tourism experts are indicating that the local communities could receive a large financial boost from visiting lawmakers and staffs.
“This year’s session is expected to bring an economic impact of $2 million per week to community restaurants and many local support services that will be utilized,” said Jordan Jacobs, director of marketing and communications for the Greater Tallahassee Chamber Of Commerce.
The Tallahassee economy has been impacted by the recession through decreases in property values, large numbers of lay-offs and heavy financial cuts. This has Florida’s county officials and political officials working to stabilize their local economy.
“It’s just a great needed bump in our economy,” Jacobs said. “We’re just really excited to have more individuals in our business community eating in our restaurants, sleeping in our hotels rooms and also shopping in our stores.”
Leon County, one of the five counties with the lowest unemployment rates for the state, has recently experienced a boost of $2 – $3 million dollars in direct spending from the inaugural events that took place in January, according to the 2011 Florida Inaugural Committee.
Floridians traveled to the capital and stayed in local hotels and ate at local restaurants, where waiters and waitresses, valet drivers and all other local hospitality workers felt a direct financial impact. Many others in Tallahassee also experienced direct financial impacts because of the inaugural events.
Now that the session has started in Tallahassee, local businesses owners and the city may notice another financial increase.
“When you bring in all the staff members, all the legislators and some times their families members that is a great impact on Tallahassee income,” said Michelle Bono, assistant to the city manager. “All of those people are either staying in apartments, houses or hotels. They are shopping in our stores and using or local services.”
According to Florida tourism experts, Tallahassee boasts approximately 6,000 hotel rooms, hundreds of restaurants and two universities with athletic programs that bring in visitors.
“The average Florida State University home football game brings in approximately $5 million to the community, and the average Florida A&M University home football game brings in $1 million,” said Jacobs.
A few restaurant managers have not quite noticed a direct impact on their businesses.
“As far as legislators, we do see many of them come in, but since it’s just the beginning of the session, all of them have not come out yet,” said Nicolas Duosa, a local restaurant manager at Masa. “In general they usually come in and have business meetings, dinners and lunches.”
Other local restaurant business managers say they are doing really well despite the legislative session but are usually busier, during lunch and dinner hours, when the legislative session is going on.
“It’s just hard to tell right now,” said Duosa.
In previous years the legislative session has had an economic impact on the city and officials are currently looking forward to another successful year for the community financially.
“It definitive has a very positive impact on our community and brings in a much-needed impact,” said Katie Kole, marketing communications director for Visit Tallahassee. “With a whole new crew over at the capital, it’s probably going to bring a larger economical impact this year, then years past. We have seen more traffic coming in, but it’s always pretty busy.”
“The difference this year is it’s during tough economical times,” said Bono. “It may be more important this year, as it was last year, because we are in that tough economic time zone. It’s a nice boost to the economy.”