Tallahassee, Florida’s Capital City, situated just south of the Georgia line, is often described as idyllic, with its canopy roads, plentiful park space, bike trails and historic features. As the seat of Florida’s government, along with two major universities with award-winning educational programs, and a history of accomplished alumni, Tallahassee is changing rapidly; evolving into a lively, vibrant and prosperous city. No longer a “sleepy town”, but instead becoming a place where college students and young professionals choose to stay and build their lives, Tallahassee has seen major growth over the last decade.
The catalyst for this change has been the influx of innovative development, attracted by Tallahassee’s talented city planners, engaged citizenry, and significant infrastructure investments from local government. This positive change has not come without resistance, as opponents of growth have pushed back against these improvements.
Grow Tallahassee was founded by a group of young professionals who believe that progressive, inclusive economic development can coexist with–and in fact, complements–Tallahassee’s history, resources, and diverse population. Our organization believes that profit-seeking and sustainability objectives can align. In order to better mitigate negative impacts of rapid growth, and realize the benefits of private sector investments, informed dialogue between the residents, policy makers and businesses is crucial. Through an honest exchange of perspectives and best practices of doing business in our local economy, both of our public and private sectors can better define their contributions to mutual interest.
Private sector is, and always will be the engine of growth, innovation, and job creation, but most importantly, it is the highest contributor to the city and county tax revenue. Strong local economy will enable us to enhance our infrastructure and social programs along the way.
Economic development can, and should, preserve Tallahassee’s natural, historic, and intellectual assets, retain our talented young professionals and students. Implementing balanced economic development is possible, and extremely crucial to our entire community’s continued success.
Board of Directors
Born and raised in Tallahasee, Florida, Justin attended Maclay High School, Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University, focusing on Real Estate and Finance. He is currently managing both residential and commercial real estate projects through Premier Fine Homes and Premier Commercial Group. Justin analyzes private equity transactions for his team and has spearheaded 4 equity closing just in 2020, hoping to start-up new companies here in town and attract outside brands to Tallahassee.
Gina Conn is a Tallahassee native who was raised in Austin, Texas. She is a graduate of Florida State University and holds a double major in Finance and Real Estate, as well as a Masters of Architecture from Florida A&M University. She started her career in real estate development in Houston, Texas, and returned to Tallahassee in 2017 to pursue her Masters of Architecture from Florida A&M University. Her thesis focused on the importance of placemaking in development. Her experiences while living in Austin and Houston gave her unique insight to organic versus forced growth of a city. When she relocated back to Tallahassee, she noticed a similar growth trend, and saw an opportunity to start a dialogue surrounding the many nuances of development.
Son of a Cuban immigrant, Jared has lived in Tallahassee since 1995. He graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Hospitality Management in 2013 and has been involved in the local real estate and business community for over 5 years. Jared lives downtown with his dog, Calhoun, and advocates for healthcare issues at the state level. In his spare time, Jared can be found at Atlas Fit, sipping a Lucky Goat cold brew, or participating rugby with the local men's club.
Born and raised in Alanya, Turkey, Bugra is the managing partner of Demirel International, which holds investments in retail, real estate, hospitality and the organic food industries. He has been living in Tallahassee since 2005 and attended Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University, studying International Affairs, Political Science and Economics. He has extensive knowledge on retail management, human resource management, real estate investments and non-profit organizations. He observed the transformation of Tallahassee from a small college town to a mid-size city. He strives for productive dialogue surrounding microeconomic policies of our local governments. During his free time, he perfects his skirt steak and Moscow Mule recipes for friends and family gatherings.