In 1853, area leaders founded the city of Gainesville on the new railroad line so the residents would have the opportunity of a growing economy. By the early 1900s, Gainesville became the fourth largest city in Florida with gas, public water, telephones, electricity and a sewer system coming on line around the turn of the century. In 1906, the University of Florida began operations, which led to significant growth in the community, allowing Gainesville to survive a collapse of the phosphate and cotton industries. Throughout the last half of the 20th century many cultural assets took form and dramatically increased the quality of life for residents and visitors.
Today, we are at the dawn of a new era in the Gainesville region.
The foundations of an innovation-based economy are in place—a talented workforce, strong education system, a vibrant startup scene, thriving arts and culture, growing businesses in growing industry sectors and a very high quality of life.
In 2012, our Council for Economic Outreach announced more than 700 new jobs and nearly $7 million in capital investment in Alachua County.
Now, many people ask, “What’s next?”
We must stay focused on our economic competitiveness. Every year the competition for jobs grows more difficult, as developing nations grow their economies. As a community, we must work collaboratively to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Chamber, with the help of its partners, is planning an increased role in developing talent—the currency of economic development in our ever-increasingly competitive global economy. Together with FloridaWorks and other partners, we have already brought the technological community together to support its talent needs, using an innovative approach that can only be successfully executed in a community that values collaboration. Historically, chambers of commerce organizations have been created and sustained by providing businesses with a vehicle to accomplish what no small business could accomplish alone. We will use this strength to win the global talent war.
The Chamber is also stepping up its leadership role in shaping public policy. We will build on the collaboration fostered though Innovation Gainesville to address critical issues and seize opportunities that will affect the success of our growing economy. To begin, we have put forth a working transportation report that outlines a path forward.
To capitalize on the opportunities ahead, the Chamber will lead. Our approach is collaborative and inspiring. Working together, the new era we see will be one in which Gainesville shines and sets a model for the nation.
Tim Giuliani serves as President & CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and leads the Chamber, its economic development arm, the Council for Economic Outreach and the community wide initiative to grow an environment to foster innovation and success, Innovation Gainesville. The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce is five-star accredited by the United States Chamber of Commerce, putting it in the top 1 percent of all Chambers nationwide. www.gainesvillechamber.com.