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home business LEARN SPEAK LIVE CELEBRATE INVEST riving Business Community By Mike Cushing BUILDING A Guest speaker Simon Sinek lecturing about his book S tart with Why? T Toast 28 hriving businesses build a thriving community, and in North Central Florida our strong business community starts with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2011 the Chamber brought internationally-acclaimed speakers to town, provided opportunities for leaders to connect and put the spotlight on Gainesville businesses. leaders celebrated the Gainesville business community. Also highlighted at the event was Innovation Gainesville (iG), the unique initiative that has brought the area’s top institutions, entrepreneurs and innovators together to make Gainesville the place to live, work and create. “Leadership is the ability to put your belief into words,” Sinek said. “It is the ability to see a world that does not yet exist and to communicate it so that others can see it too.” Advocacy Start With Why Last year started with a bang at the 2011 Toast to Business, where more than 500 In March, the chamber hosted acclaimed author and TED speaker Simon Sinek, who encouraged Gainesville leaders to focus on why they do what they do. roughout 2011 the chamber increased its involvement in government, hosting public events with local, state and national representatives and traveling to Washington, D.C. to discuss transportation and economic development in Gainesville/ Alachua County. It supported changes to HOME Living In the Heart of Florida

Gainesville Chamber Of Commerce: Building A Thriving Business Community

Mike Cushing

Thriving businesses build a thriving community, and in North Central Florida our strong business community starts with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2011 the Chamber brought internationally-acclaimed speakers to town, provided opportunities for leaders to connect and put the spotlight on Gainesville businesses.<br /> <br /> Toast <br /> <br /> Last year started with a bang at the 2011 Toast to Business, where more than 500 leaders celebrated the Gainesville business community. Also highlighted at the event was Innovation Gainesville (iG), the unique initiative that has brought the area’s top institutions, entrepreneurs and innovators together to make Gainesville the place to live, work and create.<br /> <br /> Start With Why <br /> <br /> In March, the chamber hosted acclaimed author and TED speaker Simon Sinek, who encouraged Gainesville leaders to focus on why they do what they do. <br /> <br /> Advocacy <br /> <br /> Throughout 2011 the chamber increased its involvement in government, hosting public events with local, state and national representatives and traveling to Washington, D.C. to discuss transportation and economic development in Gainesville/ Alachua County. It supported changes to city law expanding the number of people who can be served at food distribution centers and supported the state bill that allowed Santa Fe students to ride RTS buses for free. Last year, as part of the Business Community Coalition, the chamber also formed the first Public Leadership Institute – a free, nonpartisan program for local professionals who are interested in public leadership.<br /> <br /> Plotting the Course <br /> <br /> Empowering local leadership has been key to sustaining business in 2011. While Gainesville continues to recover – our economy grew nearly 3 percent in 2010 – businesses work to overcome remaining uncertainty. The chamber hosted workshops and lunches throughout the year that provided tools and guidance for the future.<br /> <br /> The chamber also brought in renowned economist Brian Beaulieu to discuss Gainesville’s economic future with members. Beaulieu, whose economic forecasting company has a 96 percent accuracy rate, said the market is growing and encouraged businesses to take advantage of historically low interest rates to purchase assets for the future.<br /> <br /> Lasting Connections <br /> <br /> Throughout the year the chamber provided dozens of opportunities for professionals to make connections within the community. From events like Chamber After Hours, that host 300-plus people at once, to more intimate settings like a 20-person coffee break, the chamber tailored events to suit members’ needs.<br /> <br /> Buy Local <br /> <br /> When we support local businesses, everyone benefits. The chamber increased Buy Local promotion via radio, television and print media in 2011. In November it hosted the first Black fiursday shopping night out, which promoted major one-day-only deals for member retailers.<br /> <br /> Innovation Gainesville <br /> <br /> Innovation Gainesville (iG) task forces were created to continue the progress made in 2010. The groups were based on iG’s five elements of Innovation – Live, Learn, Speak, Invest and Celebrate.<br /> <br /> • The land-use task force worked toward shortening building permitting to a three-tosix month timeframe, and created a model for a comprehensive Gainesville-area map that shows available properties, buildings and zoning requirements. This will help developers see the space Gainesville has and what it needs for economic development.<br /> <br /> • The Learn and Live teams partnered with The Mentor Center to create a mentoring menu that will help match mentors with individuals and organizations that need assistance.<br /> <br /> • The Invest team collaborated with Community Bank & Trust to create an unsecured-loan program to provide valuable loans for start-up companies.<br /> <br /> • The Speak team spread the iG message to local, regional and national publications, and created a digital display at the Gainesville Regional Airport to highlight the cool things in Gainesville.<br /> <br /> In the coming months, iG will launch a communitywide business calendar and is working with Florida's Eden to create a one-stop website for Gainesville visitors and prospective residents.<br /> <br /> Enhancing Our Business CommunIty in 2012<br /> <br /> In 2012 the chamber continues the push for innovation and economic growth in the Gainesville area.New programs have been created, including a partnership with the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development to offer incubation services to chamber members.<br /> <br /> 80 percent of incubator graduates are still in business Five years later<br /> <br /> Innovation Gainesville moves full steam ahead, working toward increasing national media attention and making Gainesville a national hub for green and health technologies.<br /> <br /> Gainesville is a community built on deep business and social connections, and the chamber is dedicated to strengthening those connections. This year the chamber will provide new opportunities to interact with your business peers, establish effective relationships within the community and find the tools to make your business stronger.<br /> <br /> Mike Cushing is the communications and research manager at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.He graduated from the University of Florida in 2008 and has been working on behalf of Gainesville's business community for nearly two years. To learn more about the chamber, visit GainesvilleChamber.com.

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