Since 1924, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce has been the voice of business in the Greater Gainesville region, working on multiple fronts to increase the region’s business-friendliness, competitiveness and quality of life. Today, the chamber’s efforts have been unified under a single vision of Greater Gainesville as a global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity. Accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a 5-star chamber, ranking in the top 1 percent of chambers nationwide and serving nearly 1,400 members who employ more than 70,000 people, the Gainesville Area Chamber works via five lines of business — business development, economic development, education and talent alignment, public policy and regional growth — to advance its vision by executing a daily mission through leadership and collaboration to facilitate economic prosperity, business growth and community progress.
The chamber’s lines of business provide an organizational framework within which the chamber is able to both address the common concerns of its members — which are nearly as diverse as the membership itself — and strategically implement collaborative solutions to propel the community to new levels of prosperity. From 2015 to 2019, the chamber — via the efforts and strategies of the Council for Economic Outreach — aims to usher in Greater Gainesville’s new era of prosperity through the creation of 3,500 new jobs, $218 million in new primary salaries, $250 million in new capital investment and up to $1 billion in new regional investment.
In advancing its vision of Greater Gainesville as a global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity, the chamber also advances the interests of the region’s business community members at large — whether or not they are chamber members — creating new opportunities for them and their employees to flourish.
Advancing Leadership and Building Camaraderie Through Business Development
The chamber offers its members opportunities and resources to help them address individual day-to-day concerns and stay connected, educated and motivated to succeed. With a variety of workshops, councils and connections offered each year, the Gainesville chamber is Greater Gainesville’s premier business development and leadership entity. By joining the chamber, businesses are immediately connected with thousands of business leaders as well as potential customers and vendors in the Greater Gainesville region, increasing their ability for business growth and success.
The chamber also offers a host of other programs specific to the needs of certain business groups, including small businesses as well as businesses that fall in one of the region’s five key industry sectors: advanced logistics, advanced materials, agricultural sciences, biotechnology/life sciences and software/information technology.
The chamber also advocates for business at all levels of government and can connect members to the government solutions they need to address concerns quickly and refocus on what is important: innovating, serving customers and growing their businesses.
The chamber also offers leadership development programs to sharpen the leadership capacity of the region, including Leadership Gainesville, the fourth-longest running leadership development program in the nation and the oldest in the state of Florida. In addition to Leadership Gainesville, which aims to identify, educate and develop leaders of tomorrow, the chamber offers Business Matters, an annual, four-part series that focuses on small business issues, among other programs.
Transforming Greater Gainesville Through Economic Development
The Council for Economic Outreach (CEO) is the lead economic development entity for the Greater Gainesville region. With a focus on creating jobs and strengthening our economy, CEO leads economic development efforts that include assisting new businesses through the startup phase and helping existing businesses expand. The chamber also works to recruit new companies — and the jobs and capital investments that come with them — to Greater Gainesville. Our economic development outreach strengthens employment opportunities and community vitality while also facilitating collaboration between business, government and higher education entities.
International trade is key to business and economic growth, which is why the chamber initiated its Export Gainesville program to help regional businesses either begin exporting or improve existing efforts to export. We partner with Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Commercial Service to offer international trade consulting services in Gainesville and a connection to the many export promotion services offered in the region. On average, sales grow faster, more jobs are created and employees earn more in exporting companies than in non-exporting companies. Also, international trade helps most companies ride out potential fluctuations in our domestic economy, making success more likely.
In 2014, to guide the region in identifying and leveraging assets and growth opportunities, the Council for Economic Outreach created and raised investments to execute Transforming Greater Gainesville, an aggressive five-year economic and community development campaign. In 2015, CEO began the work of the campaign, which concentrates its efforts on creating a future of economic prosperity through four key strategies:
STRATEGY I: Marketing Initiative to Position the Gainesville Region as a Global Hub of Talent, Innovation and Opportunity
Our regionally inclusive marketing efforts are international in scope and aim to communicate our regional strengths — which are not well-known currently — to compete with other well-resourced regions. Marketing efforts embrace innovation as the foundation for the regional brand identity and the core of marketing efforts. The research phase of the Transforming Greater Gainesville marketing project was completed in late 2015, and the regional brand is expected to be rolled out in 2016.
STRATEGY II: Enhanced Business Development
Throughout 2015, CEO executed enhanced business recruitment, expansion and retention efforts, and startup and international trade initiatives. These efforts are planned and executed on a regionally inclusive basis and focus on the region’s five key industry sectors: advanced logistics, advanced materials/manufacturing, agricultural life sciences, human life sciences and software/information technology. These industries and their corresponding niche and service sectors offer high wages and career mobility, and they are all forecasted for strong growth.
STRATEGY III: Regional Growth: Ecosystem Development and Improved Business Climate
Improving our region’s business climate, talent supply and quality of life are all paramount to economic development success. The chamber is leveraging its assets, including the Public Policy Committee, Alachua County Education Compact, partnership with CareerSource North Central Florida, and more to nurture and enhance the region’s business ecosystem. In addition, combining the unique and highly complementary talents and assets of our region to benefit the nine distinct communities within it allows us to offer its targeted industries a more compelling product, particularly as it relates to the number of available workers.
Developing our innovation ecosystem and improving our business climate also requires business friendly public policies. The chamber advocates for stronger state competitiveness in economic development as well as more robust local competitiveness through a focus on specific policy platforms on key issues. These issues include energy costs, entrepreneurship, state incentive programs, innovation, transportation, small business issues and more.
STRATEGY IV: Expanded Regional Stakeholders & Investor Relations
Regional stakeholders and investors remain engaged in campaign efforts through continuous appraisal of its accomplishments and impacts through monthly meetings of the Alachua County Regional Partners, a group of economic development professionals and city leaders throughout the county working to coordinate efforts that will improve the region’s prosperity.
Revolutionizing Opportunity Through Education & Talent Alignment
Companies invest enormous resources to find, develop and keep good employees. The Gainesville Area Chamber works with partners in business and education to offer a full range of talent pipeline and workforce development resources to connect members with an ample supply of high-quality talent. In particular, the chamber supports the development of workers proficient in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) fields.
Among the chamber’s recent and major talent and education initiatives is the Alachua County Education Compact, which represents the first time in history that leaders in business, education, government and the community at large have united behind an effort to transform opportunities available to Alachua County students. Signed by more than 20 regional leaders, the compact has created a collaboration that is mobilizing the community around education to better prepare students for higher education and sustainable careers. The compact is creating new opportunities to tell the Greater Gainesville story of talent pipeline innovation, garnering statewide and international attention and developing a framework to benchmark and measure success via the following six goals: all students graduate from high school, have access to and are prepared for college and/or career success, have access to pathways to sustainable jobs and careers and develop an appreciation for the arts, healthy lifestyle habits and a sense of social responsibility.
To meet the business community’s workforce needs, the chamber partners with CareerSource North Central Florida (CSNCFL). CSNCFL is part of the statewide CareerSource Florida network of careerdevelopment professionals who work directly with Florida employers to identify and cultivate the ready-to-go skills and experiences businesses seek. CSNCFL offers a wide array of talent resources that provide employers with opportunities to provide customized training to new or existing staff members, often at no cost. In assisting employers seeking skilled talent, CSNCFL also connects workers with opportunities to secure employment or advance in their careers.
The chamber also works closely with our nationally leading college and university to attract and retain talent and create a bridge between talent seeking work and our regional employers seeking employees. For instance, chamber support for the University of Florida’s Preeminence initiative to become an international educational leader is written into its economic development strategy, as is supporting Santa Fe College’s efforts to be No. 1 in the nation. Both institutions are making measurable progress toward these goals: In 2015, the prestigious Aspen Institute ranked Santa Fe College No. 1 in the nation and the University of Florida hired 90 faculty in preeminence areas.
A key way the chamber is supporting UF’s preeminence goals as well as the region’s ability to attract top talent is through the Dual Career Partner and Relocation Support Network. This initiative was launched in 2015 after leaders of the chamber and the local business community recognized a vital need for a unique support program to foster career growth for partners and families of those who move to Greater Gainesville to accept an employment opportunity. The overarching goal of this program is to connect, integrate, and assimilate relocated professionals into the Greater Gainesville community by providing a three-tier support program and various tools. This comprehensive program provides relocation assistance in the form of career, practical and emotional support.
Elevating Business Friendliness and Lowering Business Costs Through Public Policy
Through its public policy efforts, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce facilitates business-climate improvements and influences policies and outcomes to protect the interests of its members and the community at large. On local, state and federal levels, the chamber works directly with elected officials to advocate for policy decisions that increase business friendliness and reduce business and living costs. Chamber advocacy areas include transportation, energy, small business issues, innovation and more.
Recent public policy highlights include successful advocacy for the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners to create a business-led Economic Growth Task Force to oversee the implementation of more than 40 chamber recommendations to improve the county’s business climate. Additionally, the Gainesville City Commission approved and is implementing 27 chamber-recommended actions to support small business growth. In addition, in 2014, GRU implemented three of four chamber-recommended energy policies, resulting in more than $1 million in ratepayer savings.
The chamber also implements the Public Leadership Institute (PLI), a nonpartisan program for professionals in the Alachua County/Gainesville area who want to learn about public policy issues while exploring the possibility of engaging in public leadership in the future. PLI challenges professionals with business or business-related backgrounds to consider how their skills, talents and experiences may work to address our region’s critical issues cialis vente internet. PLI class participants learn from experts in public leadership, public policy and candidacy. There is no commitment required to run for office.
Inspiring Economic Opportunity Through Regional Growth
The Gainesville Chamber has created a number of regional initiatives to inspire economic growth. The community-wide initiative, Innovation Gainesville (iG), began as an initiative to harness innovation to create jobs in health and green technologies. With the chamber’s guidance and an overwhelmingly positive response from community and business leaders, iG has transformed into a cultural mindset that includes hundreds of individuals and organizations working together to grow an environment that fosters innovation and success “from the GED to the Ph. D.” Through industry-specific growth initiatives, we aim to further develop the key industries of our region, which will spur the growth of all industries and help create jobs for everyone and build a sustainable regional economy.
Can we help you?
Through its five lines of business, the chamber works strategically to make its vision of Greater Gainesville as a global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity a reality. However, every business and individual in the region is a part of this vision. If you are a business seeking to get connected, an individual considering entrepreneurship, or believe the chamber can answer your questions about doing business or living in Greater Gainesville, contact us at 352-334-7100 or gainesvillechamber.com.