Tallahassee looks to students for revenue

The city of Tallahassee and The Chamber of Commerce are focusing on the city’s college students to help contribute to the economic development of Tallahassee. Access Tallahassee is the newest organization created by the chamber to encourage young professionals ages 21 to 40 to stay in Tallahassee after graduation and use their resources to strengthen the quality of the capital. The organization, launched in October 2006, currently has more than 1,800 businesses and 200 members registered. “Access Tallahassee is geared toward young professionals to help them access tools such as networking skills, information on buying homes and access to the business community in the city,” said Allie Merzer-Fleming, director of member programs and events. The organization hosts weekly, monthly and annual events as incentives for members. As members, young professionals and businesses have free access to conferences, any local events and full access to the organization’s online features such as job board blogs. Dawn Smith, owner of Pro Players Reality, registered her business in October 2006 when the organization first launched to recruit interested college graduates. “Access has given me knowledge in different fields of business, helped me build relationships and has made me become more a part of my community,” Smith said. “The networking is awesome.” Merzer-Fleming said Access wants students to know about life beyond Tennessee Street. “Students wanted to find out how to access business tools and how to get a job,” she said. “So we built the organization.” The organization also offers information about topics concerning health, education, investments and family. Venus Jones, a 21-year-old finance and accounting student at Florida State University, has been a member of the initiative since January and said she is excited about her membership. “I haven’t been able to attend any events yet but I am looking forward to being active with the organization,” she said. Jones joined the initiative after meeting representatives at an FSU career fair. She said she thought the organization would help her with networking after graduation and was eager to sign up. Jones, who is from Jacksonville, said she plans to stay in Tallahassee after she graduates. The organization has the support of local businesses through sponsorships. The organization wants to help increase the visibility of its sponsors in the community. One of the initiative’s sponsors is Tallahassee Lincoln Mercury. The organization works in close conjunction with the chamber and has more than 15 events scheduled for the next two months. “Our biggest motivations are the young professionals in Tallahassee,” Merzer- Fleming said. “We want to prevent the brain drain and better our community.”

Membership is $50 for chamber members and $80 for non-chamber members.

For furthur information students can log onto to their website at http://accesstallahassee.com. Students can also contact The Chamber of Campus at (850) 224-8116.