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Leon County Commissioners create new 5-year strategic plan

The county's strategic plan for 2022 to 2027 focuses on the following areas: the economy, the environment, quality of life and governance.
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 11:07 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 9:12 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - During its annual retreat, the Leon County Commission created a new strategic plan and looked back at the last five years.

The County reached the majority of its goals laid out in its 2016 to 2021 strategic plan. One of the only places it fell short was in tourism, an industry drastically impacted by the pandemic.

Leon County had a goal of creating a $5 billion tourism economy over those five years; it reached $4.5 billion.

A major strength of the County’s tourism industry is in its sports tourism; Apalachee Regional Park has become a national cross-country destination.

“Our success in attracting sports tournaments, meets, activities, matches throughout the year plays a critical role in us being a year-round destination,” Kerri Post, the Executive Director of Leon County Tourism, told Commissioners.

According to county staff, five new hotels have opened in the county over the last thre years. They say that support is crucial for growing the tourism economy.

Tourism will be a continued focus in the new strategic plan.

The new plan runs from 2022 to 2027 and has four focus areas: the economy, the environment, quality of life, and governance.

Each area has a bold goal.

The bold goal for the economy is to grow the tourism economy to $5 billion.

The bold goal for the environment is to upgrade or eliminate 500 septic tanks.

The bold goal for governance is to implement 600 citizen ideas.

The bold goal for the quality of life category is to place 100 chronically homeless individuals in permanent supportive housing. Most recently, the county listed 197 individuals as chronically homeless.

Shington Lamy, from the County’s Office of Human Services and Community Partnership, said that goal has far-reaching impacts.

“By placing more than half of the chronically homeless in permanently supportive housing, we will be significantly reducing the number of long-term residents at our emergency shelters. In turn, this will increase shelter capacity and reduce the waitlist at our shelter,” Lamy said.

Leon County has a goal of growing its job market by 10,000 new jobs over five years and connecting 7,000 local students to skilled job opportunities.

During Monday’s retreat, the County also looked at community snapshots. According to staff statistics, local commerce is rebounding, and Leon County has been more resilient than the state and the nation.

Leon County’s cost of living is 3% below the nation’s average, and the Office of Economic Vitality said the County continues to see gradual job growth.

“From 2010 to 2020, our metro area gained just under 12,000 jobs in the private sector. 40% of those were within professional business services, so the bottom line here is that we have continued to maintain steady job growth over the last 10 years,” Cristina Paredes, with OEV, said.

Commissioners also heard about the construction boom in Leon County. In 2021, the county granted more than 600 permits to build family homes. Since the outbreak of COVID, permit numbers have gone up by 14%.

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