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Downtown Improvement Authority works to diversify business in Tallahassee

Authority celebrating 50 years
Posted at 5:15 PM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 21:08:32-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — This year marks 50 years of development and beautification by the Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority.

From the bustling traffic on Monroe to the sound of new business opening up on Adams, downtown Tallahassee is thriving once again after nearly two years of pandemic uncertainty.

“We have an incredible, resilient, creative bunch of business owners and entrepreneurs here in downtown,” said Elizabeth Emmanuel. She is CEO of the Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority. Emmanuel said she was born and raised in the capital city.

“The Tallahassee that I was born into is very different than the Tallahassee that we see today in all the best ways,” Emmanuel added.

From the development a few blocks away at Cascades Park to new art boxes covering street corners with color, she is working to add diverse experiences for a diverse crowd in the downtown area.

“One thing that has been incredible has been the last three businesses to open up and downtown have been women-owned and operated,” Emmanuel explained.

One of those businesses is Poco Vino Wine Shop & Event Space on Adams Street. Amanda Morrison owns the shop attracting new business to this corner of the capital city.

“It's been amazing. It's been such a warm welcome from both the downtown community and the community at large. People are excited to see something new and fresh downtown,” Morrison shared.

It is the first new retail shop to open downtown in 10 years. Longtime resident and TDIA Board Member, Cynthia Tunnicliff, added, “I think we have so much to offer downtown. We need to emphasize that.”

“We've got over 93 events scheduled right now. And then we're working on some great collaborations with the City of Tallahassee for pedestrian improvement projects,” Emmanuel said.

They are working on widening sidewalks to encourage more foot traffic even school or lawmakers are not in session.

“Building creative experiences for everyone and really focusing on diversity and inclusion. And that footprint we know it's going to work here to start bringing everyone from all corners of the community downtown, not just the people who already happened to be here,” added Morrison.

Over the last year, Emmanuel says they’ve worked to bring more than a dozen different pieces of artwork to the downtown area from local artists. They’ve got more planned for the months ahead.