Gainesville is a diverse community. With two prominent hospitals, the flagship university of the state of Florida, one of the highest ranked community colleges in the nation, and countless small businesses, Gainesville attracts and welcomes a wide variety of tenacious people. From the young and budding talent to the experienced corporate veterans who built the city’s origin story, Gainesville’s community is big on building relationships and networking.
StartupGNV – formally the Gainesville Area Innovation Network (GAIN) – was the first organization in Florida focused on the innovation economy. Since 1985, the organization has been known for its monthly luncheons that allow hundreds of local tech entrepreneurs to present their business to the community.
Today, StartupGNV is the grassroots entrepreneur support organization and works as a complement to other local organizations that are fueling the innovation economy statewide.
StartupGNV’s mission is to inspire, connect and educate entrepreneurs who want to change the world. StartupGNV also operates 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 StartupGNV Stakeholders.
To learn more about StartupGNV and how to become a member, visit startupgnv.com.
Gainesville Black Professionals
Gainesville Black Professionals’ goal is to increase communication, collaboration and networking among professionals, executives and business owners. This non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization provides an opportunity for professionals to mingle through upscale, interactive and goal-oriented networking events.
In an effort to increase diversity and strengthen the overall economy of Gainesville and the surrounding areas, the group also hosts networking events. These gatherings are held to forge relationships with non-minority businesses that have a respect for and a desire to work with minority-owned businesses.
To put it simply, the organization wrote their mantra as follows: “We have developed a network of professionals that serves to foster personal and professional development, social connectivity, sustainability and positive re-imaging.”
To learn more about Gainesville Black Professionals and how to become a member, visit gbpinc.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 devoted to building fulfilling lives for themselves in Gainesville by creating a community 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 talked-about problems in the area. ACEL evolved with that change. The group 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.
To learn more about ACEL and how to become a member, visit acelfl.com.
Gainesville Area Women’s Network
Gainesville Area Women’s Network (GAWN)’s goal is to help women build a strong 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.
To learn more about GAWN and how to become a member, visit gawn.org.