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Gainesville Area Chamber Annual Meeting Centers on Making Opportunity Happen in 2016

Gainesville Area Chamber Annual Meeting Centers on Making Opportunity Happen in 2016

Business community galvanizes behind six key areas, recognizes leaders and innovators

In alignment with its mission to facilitate economic prosperity, business growth and community progress, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce highlighted 2015 accomplishments and outlined the year ahead at its Jan. 28 Annual Meeting. Incoming Chamber Board Chairman Todd Powell underscored the need to make 2016 a year of action to advance six Chamber priorities that will benefit the entire community: job creation, education, advanced manufacturing, public/private partnerships, downtown vitality and environmental preservation. Powell believes a regional understanding of the competition for jobs and talent is key to meaningful advancement toward the Chamber’s vision of Greater Gainesville as a global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity.

“We must increase our collective sense of urgency to Transform Greater Gainesville into an opportunity region that creates ready pathways for all families to the American Dream,” said incoming Chamber Chairman Todd Powell. “We have stellar assets, and are ready to leverage them in 2016 to catapult this region toward becoming a global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity.”

Powell’s focus positions the Chamber’s 2016 priorities to compliment and capitalize on outgoing Chair John V. Carlson’s 2015 jobs focus. Over the past year, the Chamber has collaboratively laid job creation-supporting foundations in education, public policy, economic development and more. For example, in May, the Chamber unveiled the Alachua County Education Compact, which garnered commitments from 26 key education partners-including University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs, Ph.D., Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser, Ph.D. and Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Owen Roberts, Ph.D. The Compact aims to align and coordinate partners’ efforts in support of goals that ultimately align students’ education with workforce development and career opportunities in key regional industries. Other 2015 efforts to boost competitiveness included advocacy for policies to improve the business climate, increased quality of life and decreased business and living costs; targeted efforts to strengthen the regional advanced manufacturing and IT/software industries; inbound and outbound regional marketing to attract businesses in targeted industries; and leadership and membership programs designed to more strongly position Chamber members to capitalize on the region’s economic gains.

In 2016, one area the Chamber seeks to grow is engagement of Gainesville’s largest population segment, which includes the millennial generation. Internationally respected opinion leader, pollster and best-selling author John Zogby provided the keynote address, emphasizing the region’s need to rise to the challenge of connecting with and leveraging the contributions of millennials as it forges ahead in its transformation.

“Millennials are global thinkers who desire an equally global lifestyle and want to change the world,” Zogby said. “Greater Gainesville’s large 18-26 year-old cohort presents a tremendous business community opportunity to strengthen and energize the regional transformation that is already happening, but the region will have to engage millennials on their own terms.”

Presenting Sponsor Butler Enterprises continues to demonstrate its commitment to aligning its vision with the region’s as demonstrated in its current expansion, which commenced in Fall 2014 and is projected to result in an additional 3,500 jobs, 1,500 construction jobs, and $331 million for the region’s economy.

“As we bring new retailers to the area and watch existing retailers reinvent themselves, we are cognizant that these advancements equal opportunity for Gainesville families,” said Butler Enterprises President Deborah Butler. “Butler Enterprises is proud to be a partner in increasing economic prosperity in Greater Gainesville, both through support of this event as well as the business we do every day.”

Other key sponsors for the event include Causseaux, Hewett and Walpole, Inc., Suntrust, Merrill Lynch, Florida Blue and Folds and Walker, LLC.

The Chamber also recognized during the event businesses and individuals who advanced the Chamber mission in 2015 through exceptional commitment to economic prosperity, business growth and community progress.

Read more in the Gainesville Sun:


Chairman’s Award Winner – Dr. Win Phillips, University of Florida

This award goes to an individual selected by the Chairman of the Gainesville Area Chamber Board, and who has showed outstanding commitment and garnered results in advancing the Chamber’s vision of Greater Gainesville as a global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity.

Business Impact Leader of the Year Award- SharpSpring

The Business Impact Award goes to an individual who has had a strong and positive impact on the Chamber’s mission to facilitate economic prosperity, business growth and community progress through leadership and collaboration.

Chamber Innovator of the Year Award – Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Economic Competitiveness

This award recognizes a leader(s) whose vision and achievements have a global impact.

Chamber Diplomat of the Year Award- Amanda Pool, GTN

This award recognizes an outstanding member of the Chamber Diplomats, who volunteer as an extension of the Chamber staff.

Community Progress Award – Rosa B. Williams

This award recognizes an individual(s) who has created significant opportunity or has been a major catalyst for community advancement.

Community Appreciation Award – Curtis Paris, Josh Greenberg, John J. Schroepfer and Gloria Fletcher

This posthumous award recognizes a business leader(s) who has demonstrated lifetime dedication in a particular area resulting in community-wide benefit and advancement.

Gainesville Leader of the Year Award – Tyler Staab, Tyler’s Hope

This award recognizes an individual who has successfully unified the Greater Gainesville Business community around an idea, cause or innovation capable of spurring positive outcomes in and out of the region.


Rotary Club of Gainesville President Ivan Oelrich joined the club’s Ethics in Business Chair Susan Crowley to recognize the 2015 Ethics in Business Award Winner, Dr. Thomas P. Rothrock, President, Infotech. The Ethics in Business Award recognizes a business leader who exemplifies a high level of ethics and commitment in both their professional and personal lives.

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