May 18, 2024

2012 Economic Yearbook

Economic Indicators for Florida's Big Bend region

Lilly Rockwell | 4/24/2012

FSU looks to spin off businesses from its research. Elsewhere in the region, energy companies and gambling facilities are creating jobs.

Florida's Big Bend Region

Tallahassee/Leon County

SunnyLand Solar's 'solar sausage'
SunnyLand Solar's "solar sausage" is an inflatable solar-energy collector that costs 1/20th and weighs 1/50th of a traditional system. The technology was spun off from FSU research. [Photo: FSU]

Leon County aims to emerge from the recession by leveraging the area's strength in higher education to recruit businesses and launch startups, says Beth Kirkland, executive director of the Economic Development Council for Tallahassee/Leon County.

Florida State University has made strides in converting its research into startups, spawning two companies, SunnyLand Solar and SolarSink, from FSU-developed solar technology. A $15,000 FSU commercialization grant and federal and state funds helped get the businesses off the ground. Both companies are expected to create about 35 jobs in Tallahassee, according to the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.

Eunice Cofie worked with the chamber to establish her new business, Nuekie.
Meanwhile, the Chamber offers an Entrepreneurship Excellence Program that links entrepreneurs with seasoned business professionals. Eunice Cofie, a 31-year-old Florida A&M University graduate, is starting a company called Nuekie that sells dermatology products. Thanks to the chamber's program, she secured lab space through FSU's startup incubator to work on product development. And for the first time, Tallahassee hosted a conference for local startups called Startup Weekend.

Event Photography Group, better known as subsidiaries GradImages and MarathonFoto, chose to expand in Tallahassee last year after the purchase of Bob Knight Photo, adding 50 jobs to the region.

The first phase of a 72-unit, housing, retail and entertainment complex called College Town near FSU broke ground in January and is expected to deliver a boost to the continued revitalization of nearby Gaines Street, a major thoroughfare. The total project is expected to cost $17 million.

Businesses to Watch

» Bing Energy: The transplanted California company arrived in Tallahassee early last year with much fanfare. Gov. Rick Scott appeared at a news conference to welcome Bing, which is receiving $1.9 million in state incentive money. Using technology developed at Florida State University, Bing produces membrane electrode assemblies, the brain of fuel cell technology. The company has 16 employees in Tallahassee and expects to add 24 more by the end of the year. The goal is to eventually have more than 240 employees. "Everybody is really happy with the decision to come to Tallahassee," says CFO Dean Minardi.

Leon Population: 283,675
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 1.14%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
16.43% 7.41% 38.01% 28.01% 10.15%
Per Capita Income: $37,503

MSA Dec. 2011 Dec. 2010 % Change Jobless Rate
Tallahassee 177,874 175,005 1.6% 7.9%
Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation

Homes - Single-family, existing-home sales
MSA 2011 Sales 1-Year Change 2011 Price 1-Year Change
Tallahassee/Leon 1,992 +7% $160,200 -5%
Source: Florida Realtors; year-end sales, median price

Leon County Consumer Bankruptcies
2010 2011 Change
707 612 -13.4%
Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center

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