Looking Back, Moving Forward

By Tim Giuliani

In 2012, the Gainesville business community accomplished great things, but at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and Council for Economic Outreach (CEO), we believe that it is just the tip of the iceberg. Through the economic development initiative of Innovation Gainesville (iG), the Gainesville community is truly becoming a hub for green and health technologies as startups grow, established companies choose Gainesville to open up offices, and local companies expand their operations and create more jobs.

iG presents a model of collaboration that has brought an unprecedented approach to transform Gainesville’s economy by connecting our community’s vast resources. iG and Momentum 2015 were designed to transform the way Gainesville and Alachua County recruit businesses, as well as expanding and growing our own tremendous talent and resources.

CEO’s Momentum 2015

Momentum 2015 was created as a 5-year economic plan in the aftermath of Opportunity 2010. The goal of was to create 1200 new jobs through recruitment of new businesses to the area, expansion and retention of existing business, and jobs through new and expanding businesses. With Innovation Gainesville spearheading the efforts of streamlining the process for these businesses to call Gainesville home, 2012 reaped many rewards.

Silver Airways Lands in Gainesville

On January 20, 2012, Silver Airways landed in Gainesville, announcing an opening of a maintenance facility at the Gainesville Regional Airport. The company’s relocation increased the size of the already growing airport and brought the potential for over 100 new jobs.

Mindtree Chooses Gainesville after National Search

On March 27, Mindtree Limited, a global IT and product engineering company, selected Gainesville as the site for its United States expansion, bringing over 400 new jobs over the next five years.

As of October 1, Mindtree’s local hiring projections were expected to have 100 by the end of March, 2013. On November 13, Mindtree officially announced its ribbon cutting and grand opening, with Florida Governor Rick Scott congratulating Mindtree, the Council for Economic Outreach and the city of Gainesville.

Prioria Robotics Expands Operations in Gainesville

On July 14, 2012, home-grown company Prioria Robotics, a leader in the development and manufacturing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), announced that it chose to expand in Gainesville for its corporate expansion project, bringing 40 new high-wage jobs and retaining an additional 31 positions. The announcement brought state-wide attention to Gainesville,

amounting in Florida Governor Rick Scott arriving in Gainesville on October 19 to personally congratulate Prioria and highlight the economic development being done in Gainesville.

Companies like Prioria, Mindtree and Silver Airways are just the beginning of companies realizing the amazing quality of life and opportunities here in Gainesville. With the abundance of talent coming from the University of Florida and Santa Fe College, we not only plan on continuing the momentum, but to build on it going forward.

Chamber Focusing on Small and Startup Business

To respond to the needs of small businesses and startups, the Chamber has the Entrepreneur Resource Center (ERC) to be businesses’ point of contact and reference for any questions and needs they may have. For small businesses, the ERC provides one-on-one consultations with a Chamber professional or even an established local business ‘mentor.’ One of the most popular programs offered by the ERC has been the Entrepreneur Roundtables, which have engaged more than 50 entrepreneur-driven businesses. The roundtables allow entrepreneurs to privately discuss issues and challenges they meet in the workplace and share ideas and methods of success to help one another’s business grow and thrive.

For startups, the Chamber and ERC help foster their success by creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Chamber partners with the Santa Fe College’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development (SF-CIED) to provide our members with free or discounted developmental workshops.

Moving Forward

The potential for the economic growth of Gainesville is enormous. In 2013, the Chamber, CEO and iG will continue to build momentum and push for innovation and economic growth and with the investment, collaboration and involvement of the community; we will together continue to make Gainesville a greater place to live, work and play.

 

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