Troubling Economic Trend: Tallahassee Falls in Milken Institute Rankings

Troubling Economic Trend: Tallahassee Falls in Milken Institute Rankings

The Milken Institute’s annual Best-Performing Cities index for 2016 shows that Tallahassee continues to occupy the bottom 50 of the 200 largest cities in the United States when it comes to economic performance.

The Best-Performing Cities index, compiled since 1999, uses a comprehensive, fact-based set of criteria to rank 200 large and 201 small metros across the United States. As an outcomes-based index, growth in employment, wages and technology output are heavily weighted; metrics such as cost-of-living and quality-of-life conditions, often highly subjective, are not included.

The Tallahassee MSA came in at 172 in 2016 down from 158 in 2015.

The 2016 rankings for the Florida cities included in the study are shown below.


The table shows the 17 cities with the respective rankings for 2015 and 216 with the ranking change. Over the last two years, Tallahassee has ranked last when compared to other Florida cities.

Robert Trigaux, the business writer for the Tamp Bay Times recently wrote about Tampa’s favorable rankings:

Why do we care if we are 33rd this year? Because the trajectory has been up seven years straight. These are not static changes. Every one of those 200 metro areas is striving to do better, to out-compete its peers.

Rising so quickly as Tampa Bay has is testament to the improved Florida economy but also points to the local efforts at economic gains achieved over time.

Tampa Bay’s ranking this year is the highest it has been since 2005, when this metro market ranked 25th by Milken in that year’s metro survey.

That’s an impressive comeback, one that underpins the growing confidence in this metro area’s broader business community. Unemployment is down. Tourism remains strong. A construction boom is under way from the downtowns of St. Petersburg and Tampa to southern Hillsborough north to Wesley Chapel.

And new companies with major league names like Johnson & Johnson and Citigroup are expanding here while up-and-coming area firms from CareSync and BlueGrace Logistics are winning strong investment backing and aggressively adding jobs.

Tallahassee’s position at the bottom of the Milken Institute’s rankings has not always been the case. From 2002 through 2007 Tallahassee was ranked in the top 100, reaching 28 in 2003. From 2008 through 2011 Tallahassee managed to stay in the top 125. However, in 2012 Tallahassee began to majorly slide down in the rankings.

In 2012 Tallahassee moved from 126 in 2011 to a ranking of 192. This was followed by a rankings of 194 in 2013, 194 in 2014, 158 in 2015 and 172 in the latest rankings.

Mr. Trigaux wrote that Tampa’s gains “points to the local efforts at economic gains achieved over time.”

Given Tallahassee’s recent trend, Tallahassee’s performance over the last ten years should be a wake-up call for local leaders.

About the Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank determined to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health. It does this through independent, data-driven research, action-oriented meetings and meaningful policy initiatives.

15 Responses to "Troubling Economic Trend: Tallahassee Falls in Milken Institute Rankings"

  1. This is no surprise. Tallahassee is run by a hard liberal Democrat Mayor and a cabal of corrupt (let’s just call it what it is) commissioners who “govern” this city in the way that pleases and personally enriches them, rather than caring about the general economic and quality of life issues for the citizens. The local “media” (except for TR) covers for the government corruption and advocates for it. This is the same governing template for several failing cities/states such as Chicago, Detroit, the entire state of California and much of Illinois – all failing in multiple economic and/or life-quality issues. The mayor and commissioners are far more intent on developing their own economic lives than Tallahassee’s. One only has to look at their actions, rather than their words and speeches.

    The voting patterns in the city will have to reverse if this downward trend is to reverse. Until the citizens vote for better, things won’t get better.

    1. Spot on, sir.
      I predict that when run-down and long-vacated houses can be bought for $5 (like in Detroit now) the libtard voters in this town will wake up. Unfortunately, it will have to get to that before reversing.
      Meanwhile, those who run this town and their cronies will continue to operate under the motto: “Tallahassee is my oyster.”

  2. But, but, but, we have Domi Station, the mega-high tech incubator. Walk in any time and find 3 to 4 tattooed, pierced Millenials gathered around a table with laptops. Just like our elite leaders saw on their Boulder Boondoggle. Meanwhile, real businesses are faced with a hostile city government culture.

  3. One question–were there any changes in the methodology during the time period noted that could account for such differences, at least in part?

  4. Airfare out of TLH is much higher than in other cities who are competing for businesses, not to mention two of the three airlines located at TLH fly either turboprops or regional jets, neither which is attractive to business travelers. Instead of calling TLH an international airport, despite the fact there are no international flights, make air travel cheaper and you can start with lowering the price to park. That is in the immediate control of the city. ALso, eliminate the need for Business Tax Certificates, this is an expense and administrative burden that does nothing for the business but is just another revenue raising contrivance.

  5. Not all our leaders are oblivious to economic growth. County Commissioner Dailey has routinely been in conversation and on the look out for better ways to spurn growth in the Northwest of Leon County. Being instrumental in getting playgrounds, walk-ways and a greenway to encourage residential growth in the Northwest, Dailey has constantly been at the forefront of economic growth with an equal balance between residential and commercial development.

    I think our city politicians need to work more on what’s best for Tallahassee/Leon County instead of for themselves and their crony friends before we end up like other cities with no growth whatsoever. Then it’ll be those with public jobs looking to move to more developed cities.

  6. My 2016 Economic Festivus list:

    – Our elected officials conflate economic growth with urban sprawl
    – The COT permitting process is the equivalent of economic waterboarding
    – The only economic growth allowed is in a four block area downtown with COT crony ownership
    – Midtown showed us what the private sector can do in spite of COT
    – COT Utilities – The definition of communism, “the state owns the means of production”
    – Blue Print 2000 – enough said
    – Let’s run a highway through Killearn, JK

  7. Ever since I can remember (I grew up here in the 1980’s) Tallahassee has been a public employee town. That and the service sector- with little in between. While state jobs have become less lucrative and more scarce since the days of Jeb, city and county work is still desirable, though good luck getting a job if you don’t know someone on the ‘inside’. With the well-off career municipal workers calling the shots on development and industry- that they and theirs don’t personally need- expect little economic growth, save the service sector.

    There must be a balance, and Tallahassee has never found it.

    1. Could not have said it better as I have been in Tallahassee off and on for 25+ years and some things never change. Add to that those “calling the shots on development and industry” are unable to understand the concept of how private businesses are developed and managed. The county and city government issue “demands” to businesses that have an interest in coming to Tallahassee/Leon based on protecting cronies, self interest (greed) and these businesses walk away. After all these years, this is really beginning to take a negative toll on the community.

  8. …and they say there is no harm with having two elected officials not living in their districts…city and county managers who do not question problems at the DCA for years, a CDA official who leaves for vacation on the day of a hurricane, giving preference to bridges and alcohol establishments rather than public safety, junkets to Manhattan/Amelia Island/Sandestin, giving themselves big raises, firing good employees to hire family members, stupid editorials in the Mullet Wrapper in favor of Scott Maddox not living in his district…Is it any wonder we were rated so low?

    Both the officials who don’t live in their districts have had to bail family members out of jail recently? They may think they are doing no harm…

    Fire the inept city/county managers and vote out every incumbent in the next election. It is perplexing why voters did not vote out the incumbents in the recent election.

  9. This trend is sad to see but excellent reporting and appreciated!

    One technology sector Tallahassee is missing out on is solar electric. At one time, it had three companies available for business and residential installations. One left for Georgia due to permitting issues which I believe have now resolved at the City level. Another recently announced the retirement of its owner. Thus, we have only one installation company between Gainesville and Pensacola, yet other companies are seen from other parts of Florida coming in continually.

    Personally, my solar electric co-op has identified three companies outside Tallahassee which will be part of our Leon Region Solar Electric Initiative in 2017 as our member residents and businesses start issuing RFP’s (contact me if you’re interested in participating or wish more information). It would be awesome to have more vendors located here!

    Also, strategically located on I-10, Tallahassee could be ripe for solar electric parts vendors to supply North Florida and South Georgia and Alabama. Our Initiative is working on attracting them as well as any involved in manufacturing.

    Manufacturing wise, Florida lost a very lucrative opportunity this week when Tesla and Panasonic announced a new manufacturing facility in the Buffalo area! Why not Florida? The State’s unwillingness to authorize Third-Party-Agreements continues to thwart major installations. This is leaving rooftop installations as the prime source of solar electric for the “Sunshine State” and putting Florida BELOW New York state in installations, current and potential!

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