Gainesville is dedicated to becoming a global player in business. In late October 2014, the Council for Economic Outreach, the economic development arm of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, unveiled its 5-year goals for Gainesville and the greater Alachua County, dubbed “Transforming Greater Gainesville.” Although the goals originally seemed quite lofty compared to the previous set of 5-year goals, the CEO is well on its way to achieving them. In fact, when the campaign was publicly rolled out in September of 2014, the CEO had already raised over 70% of its $6 million goal, largely through past investors and local businesses.
Cox Communications, one of the major early investors in the fundraising campaign, believes in the CEO’s leadership and strategy. “We believe that if we’re doing our part in the community to make sure that we have a thriving business community, then that means that the economy is going to be a strong economy. That means that people are going to be able to have access to the things that they want, not just from a business perspective but from a quality of life perspective,” said Kevin Monroe, Cox’s executive director of operations for Central Florida.
The loftiest goal was to attract, retain, or expand 50 companies to create 3,500 new jobs with an average salary of $53,000 per year. Based on these high wages, high potential for growth, and current local presence, the CEO is primarily targeting companies in the advanced logistics, advanced materials, agricultural life sciences, human sciences, and software/information technology industries. CEO has conducted trips to Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Silicon Valley.
In order to attract these highly sought after companies, the CEO is also focusing on building and expanding projects like Innovation Square, Progress Park, and Innovation Hub at UF. Additionally, they’re funneling $1 billion into regional projects and infrastructure to improve Gainesville and its surrounding communities. The areas receiving investments include the Power District, Progress Park, Plum Creek, and the Cade Museum.
In comparison, the last plan, dubbed Momentum 2015 and created in 2010, only sought 1,200 new jobs and $5 million in capital investments. Those goals were met and surpassed in just 2.5 years, largely due to Nanotherapeutics building a $135 million facility in Alachua.