Tallahassee ‘imagines’ new future

Students were given the chance to “invest” in their future Monday at Imagine Tallahassee’s community meeting in the Grand Ballroom.

Students, faculty and community residents gathered for the open-house style meeting to provide input and vote with fake dollars on what strategic direction economic development funds should be allocated to.

Each attendee was given $100 in play money at the door to invest their “tax dollars” in any of the five initiatives.

Christic Henry, a representative with the Council of Neighborhood Associations, said the Supporting a Creative Culture and Urban Lifestyle directive is a chance to create an act of culture within the city of Tallahassee. 

“This gives the opportunity for the community to get resources in order to fund initiatives that give color, give culture and show what this city really is from a grassroots perspective,” Henry said. 

One of the goals is for the younger generation to perceive Tallahassee as a place for young uprising professionals to live. 

“What we hope to do with this fund is to help people to be able to come to this city and see that there is a lot happening with all different generations,” Henry said. 

According to information provided at the forum, a suggested project under this initiative would be to create a funding source that would provide competitive grants to arts and cultural organizations. This would increase community presence and offerings.

This project would give Tallahassee media recognition as a cultural destination for in-state and out-of-state travelers, as well as establish Tallahassee as a metropolitan area. 

Chris Edwards, a business advocate with the Office of the City Manager, said that the Becoming and Competing as an Economic Hub initiative will allow for more available jobs. 

This will be done by assisting in the growth of existing business and recruiting new businesses to the community.

“This is just a strategic directive that basically says we want to become,” Edwards said. “We want to compete.”
Edwards said the idea of this directive set forth a direction to advance the economy in Tallahassee that many more residents would want to stay.

Robyn Graves, a senior business administration student from Miami, said she appreciates how Imagine Tallahassee has taken the time to get the public’s opinion on what Tallahassee should become.

“Most students don’t really consider staying here after college,” Graves said. “I definitely can appreciate them coming here and wanting to get the students’ perspective because Tallahassee needs youth if it’s going to continue to thrive.”

Kim Rivers, co-founder of Imagine Tallahassee, said that with more than 1,000 participants so far, Imagine Tallahassee has become one of the largest public initiatives that the community has ever seen.

“We have to ask where we are collectively as a community and then tackle that question,” Rivers said.

The committee has been hosting forums and open houses and conducting surveys and social media campaigns to get community input since it first started in May.

Rivers said residents who are unable to attend scheduled meetings and forums can still arrange for a “meeting in a box” session to review the five initiatives and decide which ones they would like to vote for.

The deadline for those meetings to be conducted is Nov. 15, and Imagine Tallahassee’s final report will be submitted Dec. 12 to the Leon County Sales Tax Committee.