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Perspective: Why do we Need to Brand our Region?

Perspective: Why do we Need to Brand our Region?

Susan DavenportGreater Gainesville is home to the state’s preeminent university and the nation’s No. 1 community college. We have the state’s most educated workforce, a K-12 education system on the cusp of transformational change and five high schools in the top 7 percent of high schools in the country. We also have access to world-class healthcare, rich and diverse culture and unmatched natural beauty.

Clearly, innovation and world-class education, talent, healthcare and quality of life are in our region’s DNA. But on the world stage, there are many other communities that can claim formidable assets across these areas. Though we know we have great assets and amenities, a question remains:

What else is in our DNA, that no other similar region in the world can claim?

Within the answer to that question lies the Greater Gainesville brand that we will work to discover this year and next, and leverage to emerge powerfully on the world stage as the global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity.

That is why, as part of the 5-year Transforming Greater Gainesville Strategy, the Chamber and the Council for Economic Outreach will embark upon a marketing and branding journey to discover our brand, and decide how to strategically market it.

The definition of “branding” runs the gamut. A solid working definition of what our brand means is everything people think about us, associate with us, or have experienced here across the business and community landscapes. The vision for Transforming Greater Gainesville will culminate in more than 3,500 new jobs, more than $218 million in new salaries, and more than $250 million in capital investment. It really does all matter. Creating this vision requires work far beyond the scope of business retention or attraction. Existing businesses—first and foremost, our Chamber members—as well as those in other areas who are looking to relocate, need to see our region as a place they can easily do business while living a high-quality life.

As you hear more about developing efforts to brand Greater Gainesville, it is important to remember why all of the attributes that contribute to it cover such a broad spectrum—economic development, public policy, regional initiatives and engaged members: they all contribute to our brand and ultimately, our future.

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