As the 2014 Chair of the Gainesville Chamber’s Council for Economic Outreach, I can tell you the year has begun with strong activity and momentum. When 2013 came to a close, I was struck by how much had been accomplished in the Greater Gainesville region during the past year. From within the City of Gainesville to our regional partner communities throughout Alachua County, we made great strides in moving our region’s economic activity forward. I see no less activity as we begin 2014.
During 2013, we saw four key corporate announcements totaling 450 new jobs and $136.3 million in new investment in our area. By mid-year 2013, we had exceeded the overarching goals of job creation and capital investment for our entire five-year “Momentum 2015” economic development campaign that was scheduled to end in Dec. 2015. Thus, we decided to begin a new campaign this year to capitalize on the region’s growing reputation. Through the leadership of Todd Powell, 2014 campaign chair and general manager for Plum Creek, we are hard at work organizing an investor-driven, investor-led campaign that we believe will capitalize on the strengths outlined in our Innovation Gainesville 2.0 strategy. With a laser focus on job creation, capital investment, and a strong regional, national and international marketing and outreach campaign, we believe the Gainesville region has a strong chance at further success. We will diligently measure and benchmark our success and report to our regional investors quarterly to ensure transparency and show our efforts to create opportunities that extend to every part of our region.
Our Innovation Gainesville strategy has recently been released, and you have likely seen our target sectors. With an eye toward advanced logistics, advanced manufacturing, human life sciences, agricultural life sciences and biotech, software and IT, we will move forward on new business recruitment, business retention and expansion and putting in place a regional ecosystem conducive to startups and small businesses. Utilizing the Chamber platform across public policy, communications and marketing, workforce development and our great partners at FloridaWorks as well as Innovation Gainesville, we believe this five-year strategy will be a game changer.
We look forward to working with all our regional businesses to engage them in this critical year. Keep your ears open — you’ll be hearing more about our great Gainesville region.
John Carlson is Chief Executive Officer of Charles Perry Partners, Inc. Carlson holds a B.S. degree in Urban Design/Planning from Iowa State University. His many civic and community leadership interests include Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Chair of Council for Economic Outreach, Wells Fargo Bank Board of Advisors, as well as former Chair of the Alachua County Planning Commission and the Gainesville Housing Authority.