Meeting of the Minds: Part Three

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We take you back to St. Augustine for the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce retreat. There, business and government leaders from the Big Bend Brainstorm discuss issues facing the region.

At the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, something called regionalism is the main topic of discussion. Regionalism is defined as loyalty to the interests of a particular region, and it's in the spirit of regionalism that many of these leaders spent the weekend together, all of them from the Big Vend.

Ed Brimner, Wakulla County Commissioner, says, "We've got a lot of work to do and we've got to work together."

In the past, some counties’ leaders say Leon County was the focus, while other surrounding counties were left out in the cold, but Leon County says those days are over.

Cliff Thaell, Leon County Commission Chair, says, "Recognizing the interdependency that we have with our neighbors in counties that surround Leon is a critical factor. The fact is, in order for our Big Bend area to be competitive in the global marketplace, we can no longer have a go-it-alone type of approach."

So leaders from Gadsden, Leon, Taylor and Wakulla Counties discussed different issues that are facing the Big Bend instead of dealing with those issues as individual jurisdictions.

Ed Dixon, Gadsden County Commission Chair, says, "For us it means an opportunity to be included in the plans of the capital county, that Leon County, while we supplied 40 percent of our people to the workforce, it has always been going in those efforts and now it's coming out.

Daryll Gunter, Taylor County Commission Chair, says, "It's positive, but we have room to grow. I think this weekend was a first good step."

What are the issues facing these four neighbors?

Cliff Thaell says, "I think a regional economic strategy is the critical piece and that includes all the issues from transportation, health care, environmental resources and job creation.

Ed Brimner says, "Transportation is always a problem. Transportation, we need to build some more arterial roads into Tallahassee. We certainly need to support Leon County and COT on Woodville Highway."

Ed Dixson says, "Investment in infrastructure, and by infrastructure I mean extending water lines, sewer lines, new roads, new road construction."

These commissioners say that if a new company does relocate to the Big Bend, it's good news for everyone.

Cliff Thaell says, "We want our surrounding counties to develop and prosper, and they hope regionalism will become a reality.

Gadsden and Wakulla Counties estimate half of their residents work in Tallahassee. We'll continue through the week to bring you more stories from the Chamber retreat.