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Gainesville Leaders Talk Education at “Opportunity is Knocking”

Gainesville Leaders Talk Education at “Opportunity is Knocking”

On Friday, the latest of the Chamber’s monthly Opportunity is Knocking luncheon series—one of several ways we are connecting members to opportunities to learn about Envision Alachua—focused on creating and supporting opportunities through education. The luncheon was held at the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED).

Speakers included Chamber Vice President of Workforce Development Ian Fletcher, Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Alachua County Judy Boles and Santa FE CIED Associate VP of Economic Development Dug Jones. Their respective messages collectively centered on enhancing access to education and workforce opportunities, while also creating an ecosystem that organically drives an aggregation of talent, jobs, and economic activity here in the region.


Fletcher also focused on ensuring that students are aware of education and career opportunities regardless of the workforce entry point to which they gravitate.

“Everybody views education as something different,” said Fletcher. “But education is something we never stop doing as long as we’re alive.”

In alignment with its “Education and Community” pillar, Envision Alachua both leads and supports efforts to create more opportunities and reduce educational disparities for Alachua County students.

“On one end, our region has some of the most high-performing and achieving students in the state,” Jones said. “But we also have disadvantaged students whose circumstantial difficulties prevent them from graduating and entering the workforce with a degree or a technical skill.”

Boles honed in on cross-community collaboration—such as the Alachua County Education Compact—to transform the education and futures of Alachua County students.

“Our collective goal is equipping students with the skills they need to be successful in life,” said Boles, whose organization awarded $500,000 in college scholarships to 100 local high-school seniors in May.

One of the ways Envision Alachua makes business sense is by supporting efforts that pair educational opportunities to business’ talent needs. To learn more, visit or attend the next Opportunity is Knocking luncheon on August 7 at 11:30 a.m. at Napolatano’s.

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