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Alachua County To Mirror Innovation Hub

Business owners from across Alachua County discuss the Economic Development Advisory Committee’s strategic plan.
Business owners from across Alachua County discuss the Economic Development Advisory Committee’s strategic plan.

A partnership between the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and the county commission’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC)  wants to create the same business opportunities Innovation Gainesville brought to the city in 2010.

A task force met with local business owners on April 16 at a business and economic development workshop to begin work on promoting growth within the county.

Kamal Latham, vice president of public policy at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, said the workshop was a success.

At the meeting, businesses reviewed a 34-point plan to improve the EDAC’s strategy, which included getting new businesses excited to move to the county.

Marty Goodkind, owner of Sunbelt Moving and Delivery Inc., said keeping new businesses here long enough to then bring other companies in is important.

“How do we get the fish on the line?” Goodkind said. “How do we keep them on the line — reel the fish into the boat?”

Goodkind said he believes the combined effort of the chamber, the city and the University of Florida is what brought companies like Mindtree, a Fortune 500 information technology company, to Gainesville.

Most of the Innovation Gainesville initiative is concentrated in the downtown area of the city, a place seen as ideal for startup technology and health industries. But now the county wants to spur business in its rural areas.

“Diversity means opportunity,” Goodkind said. “Alachua has the leverage to become a global hub for both technological and agricultural innovation.”

Dave Ferro, a member of the EDAC, said the plan was created earlier this year. It has not started yet.

Goodkind said the county should make its own innovation hub because the rest of the county reaps little benefit from Gainesville’s growth.

For instance, if a building is located on Southwest 2nd Avenue, part of the money goes to the city, while only a small portion goes to the county.

Although it may compete with the city, Ferro said he believes making the county an innovation hub as well will benefit everyone.

“With good news at both the city and the county level, we are trying to improve the quality of life in the community,” Ferro said.

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  • Murph Johnston

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