—SUSAN DAVENPORT— President and CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Since my move to Gainesville from Austin, Texas, I have been asked this one question more than any other: Why in the world would you leave a city like Austin and move to Gainesville, Florida? It goes without saying that the primary reason I came to Gainesville was to undertake my position at the Gainesville Chamber. However, for those of us in the economic development profession, the question goes much deeper because the choice of cities, locations and opportunities we are fortunate to consider are numerous, and if we’re honest with ourselves, something speaks to you when you make a decision as profound as the one that involves the community in which you choose to live and work. Gainesville is one of the most unique cities I have ever studied and experienced. For those who know me, you know I love data, and when I received that cold call from Tim Giuliani in my office in Austin asking me if I would ever consider a move (and a move to Gainesville at that), I admit I knew next to nothing about the city. I was intrigued with his description of the region and told him I would read some information and get back to him with my thoughts, but honestly, I had never considered living in Florida or thought about it at all. But, then the little “data nerd” got her information and started reading. I was, frankly, dumbfounded. How could I not know about this place? Did I miss a case study somewhere? First, I couldn’t believe the position the University of Florida affords this community and how deeply they support it. The research, innovation and the university’s willingness to be a “game changer” for education, connection to community and drive for excellence is beyond impressive. I truly tip my hat to the Gator Nation. I was stunned at Santa Fe’s national ranking and the depth of programming it undertakes, as well as the “true” coordination with the University of Florida and what it means for students who want to learn and achieve. The life science innovation and healthcare infrastructure here is incredible (I have a medical background from my undergraduate degree), and finally, the growing tech startup community and the passion for all things Gainesville is what sparks a fire for growth — trust me, I’ve seen it. All these things (with data to back it up) stopped me cold. And, did I mention the arts community here? (I love the arts!) So, I thought I’d fly over and take a look. I still remember walking through Gainesville Regional Airport and those sliding doors opening, showing me the first glimpse of the city. Somehow, I had gotten so caught up in the data that I forgot to read about what the city actually looked like. I thought I would see some semi-sandy grass (I did know it wasn’t on the coast) and some scattered palm trees, but the beautiful green tree canopy I saw was stunning. The entire visit played out the same: more beautiful terrain, more interesting stories, more growth starting up and the opportunity to work with a team of professionals with a body of experience that could ensure success. I couldn’t turn it down. I’m more impressed than the day I started. Why Gainesville? Why would I not have chosen Gainesville? I can’t wait to start hearing that from others who make the decision to make Gainesville their new home and place of business. —DR. LEE A. NIBLOCK— County Manager, Alachua County When my wife Connie and I saw an opportunity to return to the place where she was born and raised, we were both very excited. Since then we have settled into what we hope is the last home we ever wish to purchase, and I was fortunate to be selected as your County Manager by the Alachua County Commission. We have quickly come to love and appreciate this community as we reconnect with long-time friends and make new ones. We are so fortunate to live and work in Alachua County. It is such an extraordinary place. Our residents are highly engaged in their local governments. They are involved and informed. Our mission is to provide responsive service to citizens and responsible stewardship of county resources for current and future generations. As our slogan, “Where Nature and Culture Meet” suggests, our community is a perfect balance of natural and cultural excellence and diversity. Through careful planning and citizen involvement, we have thousands of acres of land in conservation, as well as beautiful rivers and crystal clear springs. From Paynes Prairie State Park to the Hawthorne Trail to our numerous parks and conservation lands, our area is a nature lover’s paradise. We never take these treasures for granted and continually work to protect and improve our precious natural resources. We are fortunate to hd to be entertained and inspired. Construction has started on the new Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, which will nurture and foster innovation in children from Alachua County and from all over the state. We are home to the University of Florida, one of our nation’s preeminent universities, and Santa Fe College, recently voted America’s No. 1 community college. These institutions are two of the main economic engines of our community. From sporting events that bring us together to celebrate and root for our home team to an amazing variety of cultural and intellectually stimulating activities, UF and Santa Fe are an essential part of the fabric of Alachua County. Alachua County is open for business, and business is good. New growth is visible everywhere. Because of the quality of life in Alachua County and the availability of a highly educated workforce, businesses of all kinds are locating here. Our metropolitan area has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state of Florida. We have great restaurants, and a lively nightclub and music scene. We are the premiere shopping and business hub of north central Florida. Our retail opportunities range from big city sophisticated to unique, quaint shops, galleries and antique stores in our historic small towns. Life is great in Alachua County. It is my professional commitment to make the best decisions possible to ensure a sustainable future and create a great place for us all to call home. —TRACI L. GRESHAM— City Manager, City of Alachua Welcome to the Greater Gainesville area. We are proud of our region and all we have to offer families and businesses. Through tireless work and partnerships, we have been able to foster an environment of innovation and excellence while balancing the preservation of history and natural beauty. The end result places Greater Gainesville at the top tier of communities to raise a family and grow a business. We invite you to learn all Greater Gainesville has to offer. Supporting businesses in our region is something we work hard to do. We recognize that having a thriving business economy encourages positive growth and creates an innovative culture. The Greater Gainesville area has become a hub of innovation, hightech, biotech and manufacturing. Businesses have flocked to our region to take part in the innovation economy and are thriving. Private sector growth has been bolstered by a commitment from the public sector. The University of Florida and Santa Fe College produce graduates who are eager to enter the workforce and provide a base of talent from which our businesses can attract. Our government partners continue to invest in valuable infrastructure to facilitate growth and support economic development. We have truly developed the ultimate public-private partnerships to support business growth. If you are considering visiting our area or moving your business to Greater Gainesville, rest assured you will not be disappointed. Our vibrant community welcomes you with open arms and stands ready to assist you in any way.
Published by Business in the Heart of Florida. View All Articles.
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