Chamber News - August 2015


Marketing Delegation Visits Boston, MA to Share Greater Gainesville’s Potential for Life Sciences Growth and Return on Investment

Greater Gainesville’s vibrant Life Sciences industry is among our region’s strongest assets and is vital to our efforts to make this region the global hub of talent, innovation and opportunity. During a June 28-30 marketing delegation trip to Boston, MA, nine representatives from the Gainesville Area Chamber, County of Alachua, University of Florida and the region’s business community shared the ways our region is transforming and growing as a prime location for business attraction, expansion and investment for Life Sciences companies, venture capital firms and more.

The delegates—including  Dr. David Day (UF), Edgar Campa-Palafox (Alachua County), Perry McGriff (Community Leader), Commissioner Robert Hutchinson (Alachua County), Rory Casseaux (CHW), Rose Fagler (Plum Creek), Todd Powell (Plum Creek), Susan Davenport (Gainesville Area Chamber) and Staci Bertrand (Gainesville Area Chamber)—collectively made a total of 21 visits. Among those visited were four company headquarters and five prospects (three of which were recycling-focused). Delegates also participated in four visits to identify best practices, and visited one foundation and seven venture capital firms to illustrate Greater Gainesville’s strong potential for return on investment.


Alachua County Education Compact Prioritizes

A recent article on written by Washington Correspondent Jamaal Abdul-Alim reports that gender and racial gaps in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields persist, despite efforts and resources—as reflected in the U.S. News/Raytheon STEM index —committed to closing them. A 2014 American College Testing (ACT) report reflects a lag in college readiness in mathematics and science among women, minorities, low-income students and other underserved groups who aspire to STEM fields at the same rate as the overall population.

“These reports tell us that our community is on the right track in its efforts to coordinate resources and strategies to benefit Alachua County students,” said Chamber Vice President of Workforce Development Ian Fletcher, who is directing the Alachua County Education Compact signed in May by 21 local education, business, government and community leaders. Among top priorities of both the Compact and Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Owen Roberts’ Five in Five Plan is a strong focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

At the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference, Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News & World Report, which produced the US News/Raytheon STEM Index, said the gaps stem from a variety of factors. They include a lack of awareness among parents on the importance of STEM fields—which continue to constitute the fastest areas of job growth—and an inability to bring to scale STEM education programs that work.

“A lot of evidence says you need to teach math and science in a more hands-on practical way so kids understand ‘Why am I solving this problem,’ or ‘I’m doing this experiment because it’s about real life,” said Kelly.

Superintendent Roberts’ Five in Five plan includes a STEAM initiative hinged a hands-on robotics program to encompass all STEAM subjects and promote student engagement, creativity, problem-solving, teamwork and other skills kids need to succeed.


Cell Phone/Cable TV Rate Reductions Now in Effect

As of July 1, Florida taxpayers began saving on their cell phone, cable and satellite bills. The Florida Legislature passed a 1/73 percent rate reduction on the state sales tax as part of a Florida Chamber-backed $400 million targeted tax reform package. Floridians will save a total of $220 million in the first year due to the phone and TV tax reduction.

Communications services providers have until October 1, 2015, to implement the law, despite the July 1 effective date. Any excess taxes collected between now and October must be refunded to customers by October 1.


Help us Change the Game: Visit to Show Your Support

In recent weeks, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce has connected members and the community at-large with in-person, virtual and written opportunities to get the facts on Envision Alachua. So by now, many of you likely know that Envision Alachua could create 30,000 jobs over 50 years, and that the plan is jobs-first, and would create three jobs for every residence. You also know that Envision Alachua prioritizes conservation, preservation and education, and is driven by input from more than 2.000 community stakeholders.

Today, we’re proud to announce that we are moving beyond education and engagement by launching, a business-focused online education and advocacy portal where you can learn and share why this game-changing plan makes business sense.

If you already support Envision Alachua, we hope you will explore and use the available tools to make the business case for county commissioners, social media followers, the community and other Chamber members and businesses.

The bottom line: Greater Gainesville is rising. If economic prosperity and environmental protection are your goals, we need you to amplify the voice of Greater Gainesville business in support of Envision Alachua.

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