Gainesville is a diverse community. With two prominent hospitals, the flagship university in the state of Florida and No. 1 community college in the nation, as well as countless small businesses, Gainesville attracts and welcomes a wide variety of people. It offers boundless opportunities for individuals from all walks of life to network themselves and their businesses. From the young and budding talent to the experienced corporate veterans, Gainesville’s community is big on building relationships and can offer an option for everyone. Gainesville Area Innovation Network Gainesville Area Innovation Network (GAIN) was the first, and the oldest, organization in Florida focused on the innovation economy. Since 1985, GAIN has been known for its monthly luncheons that allowed hundreds of local tech entrepreneurs to present their business to the area business community. Today, GAIN is the grassroots entrepreneur support organization and works as a complement to other local organizations that are fueling the innovation economy statewide. GAIN’s mission is to inspire, connect and educate entrepreneurs who want to change the world. GAIN also operates GAINnet.org, the area’s fastest growing social network for entrepreneurs, scientists, students and innovators. The organization offers a variety of programs and events, including an online networking platform for innovators, entrepreneurs and those that support them; a dozen public events every year; and small group access to successful entrepreneurs and area experts for GAIN Stakeholders. To learn more about GAIN and how to become a member, visit GAINnet.org. Source: GAINnet.org Alachua County Emerging Leaders Alachua County Emerging Leaders (ACEL) was founded in 2005 for a simple reason: survival. The founders were a group of ambitious young professionals who were stubbornly devoted to building fulfilling lives for themselves in Gainesville. The goal was to create a community for young professionals to do business and learn from one another. As many traditional industries struggled to adapt to new technologies, companies realized that having savvy young people in the workplace was key. Finding solutions to the brain drain became one of the most talkedabout problems in the area. ACEL evolved along with that change. It is now focused less on helping young professionals do business with each other and more on finding ways to grow the community of young people. The organization is working to make Gainesville one of America’s great cities, a destination for talented young people across the United States. ACEL does this through what economist Rebecca Ryan calls the three C’s of growing a young professional community: connecting, creating and convincing. ACEL connects young professionals to each other and their community by hosting more than 100 events per year — they include community service, professional development, social engagement and civic duty. ACEL wants to create a community that attracts young people through public policy initiatives and work with local nonprofits. Finally, ACEL seeks to convince young professionals and students that Gainesville is more than just a college town; it is a place for young people to thrive. Gainesville Area Women’s Network Gainesville Area Women’s Network (GAWN)’s goal can be defined as helping women to business network. And while this description may seem simple enough, GAWN is so much more than that. Former chairwoman and advisor Peg O’Connor summed up GAWN as “an organization that meets women wherever they are in life and tries to help them reach their goals.” Founded in 1981 by women who attended a women-focused networking conference sponsored by Santa Fe College, GAWN has grown into a successful organization with a membership that represents a wide variety of careers, community involvement and personal achievements. As the membership grows and diversifies, so does GAWN. There is something that can be learned from every member. Each woman involved — from students to seniors — has something of value to bring across the generations. GAWN aims to foster a culture of tolerance and understanding. The group wants to attract younger women and continue to grow while keeping the same values that will mold the organization as it moves forward. A recent survey asked about each member’s number one reason for being a part of GAWN — the most common answer was that they go each month to see their friends. The group meets on the third Wednesday of every month for a luncheon and presentation at the Sweetwater Branch Inn. Everyone is invited and welcome to join, no matter what age or stage of life.
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