Chamber News and Events May 2015

 Chamber, UF and CareerSource North Central Florida Team up to Create Opportunities for UF grads to “Stay in the Swamp.”

On March 19, the University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business was abuzz with over 300 students and alumni at the third annual “Stay in the Swamp” career fair. This number of student attendance tops last year’s high of 100. “Stay in the Swamp” connected top-notch talent with exceptional local companies with a goal of creating employment opportunities for UF grads, and keeping home-grown talent here in the region.

The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, University of Florida Graduate Business Career Services, UF Career Resource Center and CareerSource North Central Florida partnered together to host this exceptional job fair.

The event was open to all UF undergraduate and graduate students and alumni. This created a more expansive talent pool than past Stay in the Swamp events, which were exclusive to Warrington College of Business Administration students.

“The thing that I liked the most was the number of candidates that showed up,” said Neil Jones, United Parcel Service’s human resources. He spoke with a few students that he will bring in for a tour of their facility and possible internships.

StayinSwampIn agreement, Steve Blay, Advanced Poker Training’s director of operations, said he enjoyed the inclusion of students from all majors. He said he met with numerous qualified students and as a result, has two interviews scheduled this week for internship positions. In addition to meeting top-notch talent, Blay was able to network with other participating companies. “As one of the smallest businesses at the event, I always learn a lot from the other employers,” Blay said.

Parisleaf, a graphic design and branding studio, was thrilled to be a part of Stay in the Swamp. Frank Avery, Parisleaf’s director of marketing and communications, said, “It was a really lively event with tons of graduate and aspiring young professionals excited to work at a place like ours. They really connected with our values, our passion for growing Gainesville, and our passion for doing good for the world from the heart of Florida.”


SWAGSWAG and Chamber Discuss Transportation Challenges (Image-SWAG)

Recently, Vice President of Public Policy Kamal Latham and Communications Director Alyssa Brown visited with SouthWest Advocacy Group board members Joan Canton, Dorothy Thomas and Dorothy Benson and discussed current transportation challenges in the SWAG area. Safety and capacity enhancements on the SW 20th Avenue bridge were among key issues cited. Chamber representatives, SWAG community members, and an elected official walked across the SW 20thAvenue bridge in November 2014 to highlight the bridge’s needs in the run-up to the Moving Alachua County Forward ballot referendum. Last week’s meeting was held in the SWAG Family Resource Center, which serves people in need.



Gator-Day-2015Chamber Attends Gator Day at the Capitol (Image – Gator-Day-2015)

The Honorable Perry C. McGriff, Jr. — a former State Representative, Alachua County Commissioner and Gainesville Mayor-Commissioner — and Chamber Vice President of Public Policy Kamal Latham advocated on behalf of University of Florida (UF) legislative priorities before state lawmakers during Gator Day on March 24th in Tallahassee, the state capitol.

 Among several UF legislative priorities are $10 million in Preeminence funding to hire faculty in specific research categories, and $100 million in new performance funding. In 2014, the Legislature authorized a new performance funding program that provides additional funds to universities that meet specific metrics. Under the program, UF last year received an additional $26 million in performance funding. 

UF is vital to economic prosperity in the Gainesville region and the Chamber was delighted to stand with its administrators, alumni, students and others in support of the university.


SasserChamber Board Honors President Sasser on Santa Fe College’s No. 1 Ranking (Image– Sasser)

The Gainesville Area Chamber’s Board of Directors recently honored Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser with an official resolution recognizing its recent receipt of the prestigious Aspen Institute’s 2015 Award for Community College Excellence. Chamber Board Chairman John Carlson noted the accolade as affirmation of the relevance of Santa Fe-produced talent to local businesses. 

“Santa Fe College’s ranking as the No. 1 College in America by the Aspen Institute underscores what businesses in our region already know: Santa Fe College is a vital, high-performing partner in Greater Gainesville’s talent-development ecosystem,” Carlson said.  “A business executive recently told me that talent was the first nine of his company’s top ten priorities. Santa Fe College’s demonstrated ability to produce a consistent stream of relevant talent makes it an asset as we prepare to market Greater Gainesville’s unique assets-particularly, our education resources, unmatched in the state-on a global stage. 

Santa Fe College was selected from more than 1,123 community colleges nationwide and received the prize for exemplifying how community colleges of all sizes can provide outstanding, affordable and relevant education.

Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and author of What Excellent Community Colleges Do recognized Santa Fe’s proactive work with local employers to meet their changing workforce needs as a factor in its No. 1 ranking, noting that Santa Fe Graduates have one of the highest transfer and bachelor’s attainment rates in the country as well as strong employment and earnings outcomes.



Chamber After Hours – May 8, 2015,  6 p.m., UF Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Business Before Hours Tuesday May 19, 8:30-10 a.m., Hilton Garden Inn



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