Economic Development Council Announces New Leadership

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Press Release: Chamber of Commerce

TALLAHASSEE – The Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County, Inc.’s (EDC) Chairman Karen Moore announced today the hiring of a new leadership team with proven successes in economic development retention, expansion and relocation strategies to guide the organization’s key missions of establishing a competitive business environment, fostering entrepreneurialism and growing the region’s key industry sectors. Starting August 1, Kyle Touchstone, an economic development institute graduate, will serve as the EDC’s new Executive Vice President, bringing with him extensive experience in implementing strategic economic development initiatives and recruitment of new companies, while Ben Pingree will be the new Vice President of Business Retention/Expansion and Public Policy, after previously serving as the CEO of a multi-million dollar organization with more than 55,000 members as well as serving as a local county administrator. The EDC is an affiliate program of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.

“After completing a nationwide search we are pleased to have two new team members that bring significant experience and success in economic development that will help our region compete for projects and provide expanded job opportunities,” said EDC Chairman Karen Moore. “This is an exciting time as we continue to diversify our economy, and the economic development team of Sue Dick, Kyle Touchstone, Ben Pingree and others bring tremendous leadership as we move our community forward.”

Kyle Touchstone comes to the EDC from the Knoxville (TN) Chamber where he’s served as the Economic Development Project Manager since 2008, with primary responsibilities in the recruitment of new business and the retention and expansion of existing business in Knox County and Innovation Valley, the regional economic development initiative. Within this role, Kyle marketed the region to potential new and existing companies, worked closely with partner service organizations, spearheaded the Innovation Valley website and the sites and building database, and also served as liaison to the City of Knoxville. One of Kyle’s biggest accomplishments was his successful recruitment of Knox County's largest manufacturer in 2008, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which initially promised a $55 million capital investment and 350 new jobs, but in just four years the company significantly increased its investment to approximately $200 million and created 1,000 new jobs for the local community. Kyle is a graduate of Mississippi State University and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. Since 2008, Kyle has assisted in Innovation Valley’s creation of 10,266 net new jobs and investments of $1.138 Billion. The region has also seen a 10% increase in annual average wages.

“I’m very appreciative of this opportunity and excited to be joining the Tallahassee/Leon County community, which I feel is poised for significant growth due to a strong business climate, engaged and invested government leadership and a skilled and talented workforce graduating each year from the three higher education institutions,” said Touchstone.

Ben Pingree will focus on Business Retention/Expansion in his role with the EDC while also assisting on public policy for both the EDC and Chamber. Prior to joining the EDC, Ben served as the President & CEO of the Zoological Society of Florida where he was responsible for a $4 million budget and more than 200 staff and volunteers in strategically supporting, enhancing and expanding Zoo Miami – a top 10 nationally-ranked zoo with an estimated $250 million positive annual economic impact. Previously, Ben served as Wakulla County Administrator from 2007-2010 and as the Assistant to the Leon County Administrator from 2004-2006. The Tallahassee native also served on the EDC’s Board of Directors from 2007-2010, as well as upon numerous other civic, non-profit and financial Boards across the state. He received his Master’s in Public Administration from Florida State University.

“Being able to come back home and work in a community with such a supportive entrepreneurial spirit is a tremendous opportunity,” said Pingree. “I’m eager to work with the many diverse and unique businesses in our area to find ways we can support their efforts, as well as identifying ways to continue to enhance the region’s overall economic climate through enhanced collaboration with our public sector partners toward new and dynamic economic opportunities.”

“The Economic Development Council is key to our community’s success in marketing both nationally and globally by highlighting our region’s strengths of a highly educated workforce, thriving high-tech presence and world-renowned research institutions,” said Sue Dick, President/CEO of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County. “The Chamber and EDC work closely with our city, county and statewide leaders in ensuring that our community remains attractive to employers looking to start, move, or expand their business, while also providing a thriving local economic environment that encourages long-term business growth, and provides them the tools, resources and opportunities they need to be successful.”

About the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County, Inc.

The Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County, Inc. (EDC) is a public/private partnership between the City, County and private investors who are committed to creating jobs and building a stronger business community. By connecting the private sector, education and local government, the EDC helps join forces to foster entrepreneurialism, advance local businesses, grow targeted industry sectors and attract innovative companies to our area. Through product development, marketing, research, technical and business assistance, management of special incentives and zones, and establishment and oversight of industry sector initiatives that strengthen the competitive advantage of the region, the EDC is aggressively serving the needs of regional employers and creating an opportunity for our graduates and our children to stay in Tallahassee.

The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce celebrates 90 years
This year, the Chamber is celebrating 90 years of building successful businesses. The focus of the Chamber is, and has always been, making Tallahassee a better place to live by helping build successful businesses that provide jobs, support families and give back to the community. Achieving this milestone wouldn’t be possible without the support of our members, and in 2013 we are enhancing member benefits, revamping programs and offering direct return on investment for each of our members. We tell members, Our Business is Your Business, because meeting individual, real-time business needs is the best way to build a vibrant business community.

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