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Fla. Govt., Chamber Alumni Launch Economic Development Firm Thinkspot


It’s been less than a week since the economic development firm Thinkspot launched in Tallahassee. Company founders hope to go nationwide by helping counties and cities become richer.

Thinkspot, based in Tallahassee, wants to help cities, counties, electric utility companies and private landowners stimulate their local economies. Co-founder Dale Brill said, they can offer these types of clients answers to the questions economists have been asking for centuries.

“How do we create wealth? Why is one nation wealthier than another? And then you take that at a sub-national level or a state level or a community level, and ask questions. ‘Why are some communities able to create prosperity better than others?’” Brill said.

Brill is past president of the Florida Chamber Foundation. Thinkspot also draws on the experience of co-founder Michelle Dennard, past director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. And Nancy Leikauf is former vice president of the Florida Ports Council. Brill said, the team knows Florida laws, the economic-incentives process and politics in and out.

“We bring, probably, as much experience, as you’re going to find in any firm in economic development in the state of Florida," he said.

He said, in addition to data analysis and strategic planning, the firm helps communities tap into what he calls "social capital."

“The first thing that we do is we make it community driven," he said. "You have to have the buy-in and the consensus to make it community driven.”

Thinkspot has been honing that approach on the Envision Alachua project, holding community forums to gather Alachua County residents’ input in developing land owned by private company Plum Creek.

Thinkspot is donating data analysis services to a similar project called Imagine Tallahassee in Leon County. Brill said, he hopes that work turns into the new firm’s next signed contract. And Thinkspot is sponsoring an upcoming Florida Association of Counties meeting to court potential clients there.

For more news from Jessica Palombo, follow her on Twitter at @Jessica_WFSU.