How I aim to promote economic growth and community prosperity as your next Leon County Commissioner.
One of the most important responsibilities of our local government is to enable and facilitate the development of a robust, diverse and balanced economy. I believe that strategically growing the Leon County economy should be a top priority for every leader in our community. This is personal to me because my life experience has shown that a family’s economic stability and prosperity, over the long-term, are key foundations for producing positive generational changes.
Stable and rewarding jobs are also among the most important elements for reducing the effects of poverty and crime across Leon County. While it may sound obvious, it is true that individuals and families living in poverty cannot escape these circumstances unless they gain access to jobs with high and living wages. To move up the economic ladder, citizens will need the ability and opportunity to develop skills to ensure they are competitive for existing jobs and those of the future. Our entire community will benefit from reducing the number of families currently living in poverty and we must be intentional about everything we do to grow the Leon County economy.
Our efforts here should be laser-focused on a shortlist of critical actions. This begins with understanding where the world is heading in the coming decade. We have transitioned from a “build it and they will come” economy to a “build a workforce talent pipeline and they will come” economy. Entrepreneurs and companies in every community want to see a serious commitment to workforce development and economic growth before choosing to locate, invest, hire, or expand. That’s why I believe there are six critical components to building a more thriving economy that works for everyone in Leon County.
They are as follows:
High Skills Job Training – Emphasize, market and provide access to practical, middle and high skills job training and certifications that are in demand now by current employers and that are anticipated for the future;
Existing Workforce Development – Mine the untapped talent that exists in this community, and nurture and invest in the skilled workforce who already live and work in Leon County;
Early Childhood Education – Ensure that we are all in and totally committed to investing in every child from pre-birth to age five when nearly 90 percent of their brain and intellectual capacity are developed;
Support for Our Youth – Ensure that ALL our children and youth have access to the best Pre-K through K-12 education, healthcare, and support systems possible;
Targeted Business Investment and Recruitment – Commit to a conscious priority of and resource investment in driving job creation through company expansions, targeted recruitment, and strategic investment into every Zip Code across our community; and
Data-Driven Decision Making – Continually collect and analyze business intelligence about and respond to industries that are growing so that citizens can develop the skills needed to compete for viable careers.
While we will always need to ensure that critical support and “safety net” services are provided to our most vulnerable community residents and their families (especially our children), we must be tireless, focused and intentional about the development of our future economy, ensure that every resident has access and opportunity to develop their skills and talent, and ultimately enable the opportunity of every citizen to not just get by but actually get ahead.