TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 22, 2009) - A new institute dedicated to Tallahassee's economic prosperity will be created at Tallahassee Community College, thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The Knight Creative Communities Institute strives to attract and retain young professionals and develop a more adaptable workforce for Florida's capital city. It will build on the momentum created by the successful Knight Creative Class pilot project over the last two years. The effort produced the Tallahassee Film Festival, the environmental group Sustainable Tallahassee and the Get Gaines Going initiative to turn the street into an arts and entertainment district.
The Institute will be launched with a $570,000 grant from Knight Foundation.
"What's unique about this initiative is that it has the power to reach into any segment of our community - business and industry, the arts, or social services - and engage stakeholders through a process with a proven record of generating sustainable economically-oriented activity. We expect the KCCI to be able to generate and spin off one or two successful projects each and every year," said Robin C. Johnston, Vice President for Institutional Advancement & Executive Director, TCC Foundation.
"The KCC Institute could well be one of the most important economic development initiatives in our region today."
The pilot project was based on the work of renowned social theorist Richard Florida, who argues that the so-called "creative sector" is the driving force of economic development. Creative sector professionals work in the fields of technology, research and development, arts and culture and education and training. The sector makes up about 30 percent of the U.S. workforce, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the country's wages and is expected to create 10 million jobs within the next decade.
At first, Tallahassee was one of three cities in the nation to participate in the Knight Creative Communities Initiative because of its high concentration of government and education sector jobs, as well as its inability to diversify its economy by attracting a creative sector.
The newly created Knight Creative Communities Institute aims to be a national model. By developing a stronger creative sector, all of Tallahassee will benefit from new jobs and businesses. It will be fueled by a group of "community catalysts," or local leaders and advocates who will meet to devise new ways to help the city's economy grow.
"In Tallahassee, Knight Foundation focuses on transforming the city into a thriving and more diverse economic region. The Knight Creative Communities Institute will be a cornerstone of our work, by creating a sense of place in the community that will attract and retain college graduates and young professionals," said Mike Pate, Knight Foundation's Tallahassee program director. "The results of the successful pilot project are an example of the kind of exciting progress we can expect to see as we continue to build Tallahassee's economic future."
"Tallahassee Community College is ecstatic to have been granted this award and to be a part of an institute that will have such a powerful impact on building authentic sustainable prosperity for our region," said Dr. John Chapin, Vice President for Economic & Workforce Development at the college.
"Being able to engage our faculty, staff and students in spurring economic development while creating a sustainable community and workforce is a unique opportunity," Chapin, said. "It doesn't get much better than this."
The Institute's first order of business will be to hire an executive director. Later this spring, the Institute will recruit 30 people to become the "community catalysts."
"Tallahassee Community College and the TCC Foundation are committed to their roles as regional economic development agents. We were very impressed by what the first iteration of the Knight Creative Communities Initiative accomplished, and we are extremely grateful that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is supporting our efforts to institutionalize the process and carry it forward in our community for years to come," continued Johnston.
For further information on KCCI contact Robin Johnston (850) 201-6067; for more information on the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation contact Mike Pate (850) 915-0258.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.