City and County Commissioners met Thursday afternoon at St. John’s Episcopal Church for a forum sponsored by The Village Square, Leadership Tallahassee and The Tallahassee Democrat. The purpose of the forum was to give community members the opportunity to meet with commissioners and voice their concerns on issues affecting them.
The atmosphere was very much like a city hall meeting. Many community members were in attendance as well as city and county elected officials, Mayor Andrew Gillum, City Commissioner Curtis Richardson and County Commissioners Kristin Dozier, Mary Ann Lindley and Nick Maddox.
Plans for economic development were addressed.
Commissioners have recently developed a program called Leon Works.
County Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley went in depth about what Leon works is.
“The county is trying to bring together a lot of groups and institutions in this community who are already trying to help young people who may not go to college to get into the artisan skills, trades and things of that nature,” Lindley said.
Lindley stressed that there is such a need for people to fill these jobs throughout the United States.
“You don’t have to go to college necessarily to get training in all kinds of healthcare services and everything from aviation, mechanics, EMS to truck driving. There are all kinds of skilled jobs that you can earn a good living in,” Lindley said.
She mentioned some people may not have the maturity or the awareness of what they want to do straight out of high school.
The program aimed to help those who may not attend college or plan to attend later.
Commission Nick Maddox explained why Leon County needs Leon Works.
“We have great universities. I think we don’t focus on those who do not want to get four-year degrees, the people who are less interested with spending that time in college and people who just want to do technical jobs, ”Maddox said. “Leon Works gives them the ability to do that. It puts the people who are interested in those types of jobs in the room with people who work those types of jobs. It fosters apprenticeships in hiring those individuals so they can get into the fields they want to get into.”
The program is just getting launched. The county looked to start with young middle and high school students.
“We are trying to give young people different alternatives so they don’t feel like its college or nothing, or its college or McDonalds. We are trying to boost that part of the economy and open up the options.” Lindley said.
Leon County resident, Matthew Regan, thought the program was a great idea.
“I’m excited to see how it goes. I think it is a great plan to improve economic grounding here in Tallahassee,” Regan said.
Commissioners started this plan in December 2014. A meeting to further plan the operation is scheduled to take place March 10 at the County Commission meeting.