Over the last two years, the Council for Economic Outreach has led the efforts of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce to implement the five-year economic development strategy, Transforming Greater Gainesville.
Today, the evidence that the Greater Gainesville region has, indeed, transformed into a global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity is all around us. In the last two years, we have seen the expansion and relocation of several global companies in Greater Gainesville, the most recent being Merieux Nutrisciences, which has 50 offices in 21 countries and is constructing a new, enhanced site in East Gainesville. This year we also welcomed The VANAD Group—a Dutch human engagement leader—as it established its global headquarters in Innovation Square.
The momentum our community has gained in the last two years is something we can be proud of. As the University of Florida continues striving for national preeminence and global leadership in key fields, it has undertaken a strategic development plan to create the physical environment—across its campus, the city of Gainesville and Alachua County—upon which these endeavors depend. Meanwhile, Santa Fe College continues to lead, most recently spearheading a process that has resulted in Alachua and Bradford counties being named a TechHire community by the White House. The City of Gainesville’s work to make Gainesville the most citizen-centered city in the world have been recognized by Fast Company magazine as leading, even in comparison with cities such as San Francisco. And against this changing backdrop, the Chamber has continued to tell business leaders, site selectors and the media the story of all of these accomplishments, and others, as examples of how the Greater Gainesville region is forging a global future.
Forging the global future that is possible for Greater Gainesville is a team effort. None of us can do it alone. Yet, as the above-outlined achievements illustrate, we all have distinct roles in pushing our region toward excellence as a nationally leading, preeminent region and global hub that is rich in talent and economic opportunities, fosters business success, and prioritizes community progress. As we forge Greater Gainesville’s global future, the Chamber’s role as a convener, both for members and the community at-large, will be more important than ever. At the Chamber, we are rising to the challenge of embracing that role with renewed commitment, and infusing our efforts with fresh insights, tools and opportunities. For example, as our members visit our new website, participate in new programs and initiatives, and engage in our leadership opportunities, they will see firsthand our commitment to continuous improvement to better serve them. We also hope that as the community interacts with us in these and other ways, they too will see a demonstrated commitment to providing a forum for community conversation and progress.
Our ability to succeed at forging a global future depends on regional dialogue and alignment. To this end, we invite and encourage you to come out on February 7th to participate in the first of several upcoming forums for community dialogue on regional priorities. Your insights, ideas and concerns will be welcomed and valued during this forum, which will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Senior Recreation Center, located at 5701 NW 34th Blvd., as part of the Chamber’s Putting Children First Infrastructure Investment Initiative (i3). Ultimately, our goal is to engage the region in setting priorities our community can support as a team. We hope you will come out and talk to us about the future you envision for Greater Gainesville. You can find more information on our upcoming forum and other opportunities to get involved at gainesvillechamber.com. We want you at the table. Come join us.
SUSAN DAVENPORT is President/CEO, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.