Gainesville, Fla. is presenting a bright new face to the world with the launch of GainesvilleConnect.com, a unified web portal designed to entice and welcome new businesses, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors. While Gainesville attracts national attention for its burgeoning renaissance as a center for technology and innovation, a slew of local leaders championed the need for a stronger web presence. Over 25 organizations and businesses representing the cutting edge of local economic development have supported creation of GainesvilleConnect.com and have pledged to use it as their online recruitment tool.
Hardly a week goes by without Gainesville receiving yet another accolade. The city has received rankings in everything from top tech city in Florida, a top ten city for livability, and best place to start a band. Nevertheless, institutions as diverse as the University of Florida (UF)—one of the nation’s top public research institutions—to local start-up companies have been hampered in their ability to recruit and retain the employees they need. In spite of having captured the world’s attention, Gainesville wasn’t telling its own story.
“We are an Eden. We’re lush and fertile with both biodiversity and intellectual activity. We’re lucky we’re the size town we are. In many ways, small is powerful because of the concentration of talent, energy and cooperation,” says Patti Breedlove, the associate director of UF’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator. Over the last three years leaders participating in the iG (Innovation Gainesville) framework identified communication as a key need. In order to continue the growth of start-up companies and quality new jobs; new tools were needed to let potential entrepreneurs and investors know about Gainesville’s high quality of life and skilled population.
Rather than outsource creation of the new website they turned to Florida’s Eden, a local non-profit with ten years of experience in community development. “We are at the dawn of a renaissance that will benefit everyone in this community,” notes Annie Pais, Executive Director of Florida’s Eden. “One of the hallmarks of our community is the concentration of creative talent that lives here, and we are inviting everyone to take part in telling our story through GainesvilleConnect.com.”
Florida’s Eden and iG also wanted to hear from recent arrivals. Focus groups from diverse demographics offered consensus on the attractions of the area—friendliness, serenity, educational excellence, and an exciting urban/rural blend of world-class culture and night life along with easy access to wilderness and outdoor recreation. They also offered detailed insights into things they would have appreciated when researching the area—tools that have been incorporated into GainesvilleConnect.com. Indeed, the site lives up to its name, serving as the entrance to a one stop shop for scores of organizations and resources that make Alachua County and Gainesville a remarkable place to live, learn, work, play, create and thrive.
Economist Richard Florida notes that a hallmark of the global economy is the ability of talented employees to choose to live anywhere in the world. In 2012 Richard Florida ranked Gainesville among “America’s Leading Creative Class Metros.” No stranger to recruiting top level athletes, Gainesville has now turned its attention to putting the city on the map as a global idea center that has zealously retained a high quality of life. “From the natural landscapes to the cultural offerings to the beloved restaurants and haunts, Gainesville is like no other,” explains Michael Blachly, Director, University of Florida Performing Arts. “The beauty of GainesvilleConnect is that it is ‘one stop shopping’ for those who may be considering making the city their new home and for residents who may have forgotten the gems that lie just off the beaten path.”